Wildfires have burned 5.5 million acres across the West so far in 2015, an area equal in size to New Jersey. These numbers put the current fire season on track to reach or surpass record levels.
Most of the acres burned — a whopping 4.7 million acres, or 85% of the total — have been in Alaska, where 300 fires are currently burning. While not all are violent and fast-moving, Alaska's wildfires have done significant damage in what could be the worst wildfire season in state history.
The ongoing drought, coupled with summertime heat, has exacerbated the fire season in the West. Major wildfires in the region include:
- The Reynolds Creek Fire in Montana's Glacier National Park grew from a 2-acre burn to a 2,000-acre inferno in a matter of hours. The blaze, which has burned more than 3,100 acres and cost $4.3 million so far, is one of the top priority fires in the nation.
- CALFIRE has proclaimed the Lowell Fire the most dangerous of the nine California fires that crews are battling. The wildfire has injured four firefighters, consumed more than 2,200 acres, and is still threatening 1,800 homes.
- Crews are rapidly gaining ground on the Blue Creek Fire in Washington, which has scoured more than 6,000 acres and cost $6.25 million.
See the Western Governors' outreach on wildfire policy issues, including rangeland fire risk and the so-called "fire-borrowing" funding practice.