US National Interagency Fire Center Wildfire Update for September 9, 2022: Two New Fires

The US National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reported on Monday (9-19-22) that the total number of large wildfires and complexes currently burning in the US has grown to 95, with more than 902,574 acres across 9 different states currently burning. Two new fires in Oklahoma were reported within the past 24 hours. There are now more than 15,000 wildland fire personnel assigned to these incidents across the US.

The NIFC has reduced the National Fire Preparedness Level from 4 down to 3 (out of a possible 5) thanks to rain falling in California, Nevada, and Oregon. However, red flag warnings are posted in effect today across most of Wyoming into southwest South Dakota and northwest Nebraska due to dry and windy conditions. In addition, air quality alerts have been issued for parts of southern/central Oregon into this evening due to smoke from the Cedar Creek Fire.

Most of the wildfire activity is now located in the state of Idaho, where there are currently 38 wildfires burning. There are 27 wildfires burning in Montana, 13 wildfires in Washington State, 6 wildfires each in California and Oregon, 2 wildfires in Oklahoma, and 1 wildfire each in Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming. Of the 95 wildfires currently burning, none of them have yet to be contained.

The current number of wildfires continues to be well in excess of the 2021 level, which up until now held the record high level, and is more than double the 10-year average. The NIFC offers this simple comparison as an example:

  • From 1/1/22 through 9/19/22, 51,169 wildfires have been reported and they have burned 6,789,438 acres.
  • From 1/1/21 through 9/19/21, 45,118 wildfires had been reported and they had burned 5,655,315 acres.
  • The NIFC notes that the 10-year average (2012–2021) for the same time period is 43,834 wildfires which had consumed 6,201,256 acres.

The NIFC says several burned area emergency response teams are currently assessing the land after wildfire in California, Nevada, and New Mexico. After a wildfire, the land may need to be stabilized to prevent loss of topsoil through erosion and prevent the movement of dirt into rivers and streams. Land management specialists and volunteers jumpstart the renewal of plant life through the seeding and planting of annuals, trees, and native species that help retain the soil and fight evasive weeds. It is a long-term process, notes the NIFC, that comes alive as the fires die down.

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