U.S. Is Slated for Worst-Ever Fire Season

More than 8 million acres burned

This year, the U.S. is on track to have the most acres burned in wildfires ever. (NPS Climate Change Response / Flickr)
Photo: NPS Climate Change Response / Flickr Wildfires

U.S. wildfires have burned 8,202,557 acres this year, the National Interagency Fire Center posted Wednesday. The number is greater than any other year in recorded history as of September 1, the Washington Post reports

In 2006, the worst wildfire year to date, a total of 9,873,745 acres were burned. But only 7,663,928 had been consumed by September 1, more than 500,000 fewer than this year. 

A major contributing factor to the total acres consumed this year was a series of large fires in Alaska that have burned more than 5 million acres already, according to The Washington Post. Washington state has also been battling fires, with over 900,000 acres consumed in 16 currently burning fires. 

“While nobody around here really likes to make bets with where we’ll end up with fire season, there’s certainly the potential to hit that record mark,” Jennifer Jones, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service, told The Washington Post.

There are currently 56 reported large (upwards of 100 acres) fires across the country, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, and the national wildfire preparedness level has been at its highest—level 5—since August 13. For the first time ever, more than 50 percent of the Forest Service’s budget will be used fighting fires.

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