The 2018 wildfire season has begun in devastating fashion, and 61 major fires burn uncontained across 12 states. over 760,000 acres — roughly the size of the entire state of Rhode Island — are currently on fire in America.
With total burned acres close to last year’s total at this time, and with ongoing hot and dry conditions across the American West and Southwest, all signs point to 2018 being as bad or worse of a year as 2017, one of the worst wildfire seasons in decades.
More than 70,000 unplanned blazes burned more than 10 million acres across the country in 2017. That was only the second time this happened since 1952. The other was in 2015. To put out these fires cost firefighting agencies over $2.9 billion. Including property damage, total costs were estimated at around $18 billion.
In 2017, fires were concentrated primarily in the West, and 2018 will likely be no different. The National Interagency Coordination Center predicts fire conditions will be worse than normal across parts of eight western states this summer.
Still, According to data collected by the National Interagency Fire Center, a group of connected federal agencies that monitor wildfires, fires are by no means a phenomenon limited to that part of the country. Every state in the country had at least one unplanned forest fire in 2017.