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Fire Facts: How this Season Ranks Against the Last Decade

by on August 23, 2012

SACRAMENTO – Across the United States, more than 7 million acres have burned so far this year. It’s only late August and those numbers are already very high, actually the highest in the last 10 years by about a half million acres. Massive fires in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas have skyrocketed the number of acres burned, while the number of total fires has remained low.

Total Number of Acres Burned Year-to-Date from 2003 to 2012 (August 23, 2012). Data: National Interagency Fire Fire Center Graphic: California Emergency Management Agency

As of today, there have been 43, 104 state and federal responsibility fires so far this year, just the ninth lowest number of total fires since 2003. These numbers would indicate while there have been fewer fires than recent years, the fires that do burn are larger in scale.

The graphic above shows the number of fires across the U.S. from Year-to-Date between 2003 and 2012.Data: National Interagency Fire Center. Graphic: California Emergency Management Agency

Around the State of California, wildfire season is also in full effect. There are currently three fires burning in state responsibility areas (Ponderosa, Mills and SHU August Lightning Complex). The largest wildfire in California history is currently burning in eastern Lassen County across the state line to Nevada, known as the Rush Fire. It has burned more than 317,000 acres as of today at 60% containment. Burning on federal responsibility land , it has eclipsed the Cedar Fire of 2003 in San Diego that scorched 273,246 acres and cost 15 people their lives.

Since the beginning of the year, California has had more than 4,000 fires. Between federal and state responsibility areas the 13 active large fires in California have burned more than 549,864 acres.

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