Wildfires Fast Facts

Here's some background information about wildfires.Latest Wildfire Info: Here is the most recent "National Sig...

Posted: Feb. 28, 2018 6:09 PM
Updated: Feb. 28, 2018 6:09 PM

Here's some background information about wildfires.

Latest Wildfire Info: Here is the most recent "National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook" from the National Interagency Fire Center.

About Wildfires: Wildfires are sometimes called "wildland fires."

Wildfires can originate from a dropped match, cigarette embers, campfires, exhaust sparks from a train, or arson.

Many wildland fires are ignited by lightning.

There are no official rules, but the first responders usually name a fire after a meadow, creek, city, or type of plant they see.

Wind, temperature, and humidity all influence wildfires. Strong winds push flames toward new fuel sources. Wind can pick up and transfer burning embers and sparks, starting "spot fires."

During the day, sunlight heats the ground and warm air rises, allowing hot air currents to travel up sloped landscapes. At night, the ground cools and air currents travel down the slopes.

Humidity dampens fuel, slowing the spread of flames. Humidity is greater at night, so fires usually burn less intensely then.

Large fires can create their own winds and weather, increasing their flow of oxygen.

A really large fire can generate hurricane-force winds, up to 120 mph. The high temperatures preheat fuels in the fire's path, preparing them to burn more readily.

Timeline of Firefighter Fatalities Associated With Wildland Fires (selected): June 26, 1990 - Six firefighters (including four volunteers on a prison work crew) are killed in the Dude Fire in Tonto National Forest, northeast of Phoenix.

July 6, 1994 - Fourteen firefighters die in a wildfire at Storm King Mountain in the South Canyon Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

July 10, 2001 - Four firefighters die while taking shelter from the Thirtymile Fire north of Winthrop, Washington.

June 21, 2002 - Five firefighters die when the van they are riding in overturns not far from Parachute, Colorado, on the way to the Hayman Wildfire, southwest of Denver.

August 24, 2003 - Eight firefighters die when the van they are riding in crashes with a tractor-trailer west of Vale, Oregon. They were returning from fighting a wildfire in Boise National Forest, Idaho.

October 26, 2006 - Five firefighters die in an arson related wildfire in the San Jacinto Mountains, near Palm Springs, California.

August 5, 2008 - Seven firefighters are killed in a helicopter accident soon after taking off from the Buckhorn wildfire near Shasta Trinity National Forest, Northern California. (Three more died that month, but in other fires.)

June 30, 2013 - Nineteen firefighters are killed while fighting the Yarnell Hill wildfire, northwest of Phoenix.

August 19, 2015 - Three firefighters die while fighting a wildfire near Twisp, Washington.

US Fire Season Summary: (National Interagency Fire Center) 2000 Fires: 92,250 Acres Burned: 7,393,493 2001 Fires: 84,079 Acres Burned: 3,570,911 2002 Fires: 73,457 Acres Burned: 7,184,712 2003 Fires: 63,629 Acres Burned: 3,960,842 2004 Fires: 65,461 Acres Burned: 8,097,880* * 2004 fires and acres do not include state lands for North Carolina 2005 Fires: 66,753 Acres Burned: 8,689,389 2006 Fires: 96,385 Acres Burned: 9,873,745 2007 Fires: 85,705 Acres Burned: 9,328,045 2008 Fires: 78,979 Acres Burned: 5,292,468 2009 Fires: 78,792 Acres Burned: 5,921,786 2010 Fires: 71,971 Acres Burned: 3,422,724 2011 Fires: 74,126 Acres Burned: 8,711,367 2012 Fires: 67,774 Acres Burned: 9,326,238 2013 Fires: 47,579 Acres Burned: 4,319,546 2014 Fires: 63,312 Acres Burned: 3,595,613 2015 Fires: 68,151 Acres Burned: 10,125,149 2016 Fires: 67,743 Acres Burned: 5,509,995

2017 Fires: 71,499 Acres Burned: 10,026,086

Largest Wildland Fires Losses: 1991-2016 (not adjusted for inflation) (Insurance Information Institute)

$1.7 billion - Oakland, California - October 1991

$1.3 billion - "Witch Fire" - San Diego, California - October 2007

$1.06 billion - "Cedar Fire" - Julian, California - October-November 2003

$975 million - "Old Fire" - San Bernardino, California - October-November 2003

$938 million - "Great Smoky Mountains Fire" - Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee - November 2016

$931 million - "Valley Fire" - Northern California - September 2015

$530 million - "Bastrop County Complex Fire" - Bastrop County , Texas - September 2011

$450 million - "Waldo Canyon Fire" - Colorado Springs, Colorado - June 2012

$375 million - "Topanga Fire" - Malibu, California - November 1993

$350 million - "Laguna Canyon Fire" - Orange County, California - October 1993

Structures Destroyed by Wildfires, by Year: (National Interagency Coordination Center)

2010 - 788 structures destroyed: 338 residences, 445 outbuildings and five businesses. The annual average (since 1999) is 1,179 residences, 1,156 outbuildings and 42 businesses.

2011 - 5,246 structures destroyed: 3,459 residences, 1,711 outbuildings and 76 commercial structures. The annual average is 1,354 residences, 1,199 outbuildings and 45 commercial structures.

2012 - 4,244 structures destroyed: 2,216 residences, 1,961 outbuildings and 67 commercial structures. The annual average is 1,416 residences, 1,253 outbuildings and 46 commercial structures.

2013 - 2,135 structures destroyed: 1,093 residences, 945 outbuildings and 97 commercial structures. The annual average is 1,394 residences, 1,233 outbuildings and 50 commercial structures.

2014 - 1,953 structures destroyed: 1,038 residences, 874 minor structures, 20 commercial structures and 14 mixed commercial/residential structures. The annual average is 1,372 residences, 1,210 minor structures, and 49 commercial structures.

2015 - 4,636 structures destroyed: 2,638 residences, 29 multiple residences, 1,849 minor structures, 111 commercial structures and nine mixed commercial/residential structures. The annual average is 1,449 residences, 1,248 minor structures, and 53 commercial structures.

2016 - 4,312 structures were destroyed: 3,192 residences, 1,025 minor structures, 78 commercial structures and 17 mixed commercial/residential structures. The annual average (since 2015) is 1,449 residences, 1,248 minor structures, and 53 commercial structures.

2017 - 12,306 structures were destroyed: 8,065 residences, 4,002 minor structures, 229 commercial structures and 10 mixed commercial/residential structures. The annual average (since 2016) is 1,545 residences, 1,236 minor structures, and 55 commercial structures.

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