Wildfires are a common occurrence in the Western United States, whose erratic rainy years and drought years are also consistent in their inconsistency. This year, the fires are making news because of their proximity to heavily populated areas, as well as simply because of their size.
- nine in New Mexico
- six in Utah
- six in California
- six in Colorado
- nineteen in Alaska
- one in Florida
- two in Nevada
- four in Oregon
- four in Texas
- One each in Washington and Wyoming.
The year to-date statistics show that the acreage burned is somewhat higher than the ten-year mean, with 2,673,183 acres burned since the beginning of the calendar year 2018. That translates to about 4,176 square miles, or an area about half the size of New Jersey.
Most of the fires are caused by natural events such as lightning from “dry storms.” However, sometimes they are caused by human activity.
For the people in the affected areas, the losses are heartbreaking. Colorado sources report about 104 to 109 homes destroyed in the area between Fort Garland and Cuchara. This is some of the most beautiful land in the state.
Earlier in the spring the area looked like this:
Now, though, it looks something like this:
The Spring Fire in Colorado alone has now consumed over 94,125 acres on two fronts since it started burning on June 30, and it is now already the third largest wildfire in Colorado state history.
In San Francisco, the skies were darkened by smoke pushing over the Bay area from fires burning in Yolo and Napa counties.
— Enrique Patino-Daly (@EP_Daly) July 1, 2018
Presently about 13,000 firefighters are working all across the affected areas fighting the wildfires. Also, changing weather is on the way for people in Texas, Colorado and New Mexico as cooler and more moist air, and the chance of rain enter the forecasts starting Wednesday evening, local time.
Many plans for fireworks displays across Western cities have been canceled, quite understandably, and in all parts of the dry West, vacationers and tourists are encouraged to be extremely careful not to start any new fires.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.