Hot and Dry Conditions in the Western U.S. has New Wildfires at a 10-year High Level

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the number of new wildfires in the U.S. so far this year is at a 10-year high. Since January, more than a million acres have burned from more than 28,000 wildfires — the highest number of fires for this date since 2011. There are currently 33 active large fires across the West. The biggest fire has scorched more than 175,000 acres in the canyons and valleys east of Phoenix. It is 73% contained. One of the largest areas of concern, as of now, is the high desert Great Basin region in Utah, Nevada and eastern Oregon.

Paul Peterson, a BLM fire management officer said, “When you have standing dead grass that’s already out there and when we have high heat, that ignition potential raises dramatically.” A record-breaking heat wave across the West this week isn’t helping ease fire danger. Temperatures have soared into the triple digits in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Montana, where new wildfires are sparking weeks earlier than normal.

Billy Chapman, public information officer at Custer-Gallatin National Forest said, “It’s not very typical. I think a lot of it’s the heat. We have not had any spring rain really.” Chapman predicts a severe wildfire season if the abnormally warm temperatures and dry conditions continue into the summer. “Things could change — and I hope they do — but this is not a good trend,” he said.


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New Wildfires Are At A 10-Year High In The Hot, Dry Western U.S.