In 2020, 59,000 wildfires burned 10.1 million acres in the U.S., the second most recorded since 1960 and just barely lower than the total acreage burned in 2015. This year is projected to be another bad one. Already, 34,000 fires have burned 2.3 million acres across the country, with months of the 2021 North American fire season left.
As of July 22, there were 79 active wildfires in 13 states, all, with the exception of a small fire in Minnesota, in the western United States, according to the National Fire Information Center.
While it remains to be seen how 2021 will compare to last year’s historical season, this year has already produced at least one historical fire. The Bootleg Fire in Oregon has, as of the time of this writing, already burned nearly 400,000 acres, making it one of the largest of this century — and it has not yet been contained.
24/7 Wall St. has created a list of the most destructive wildfires in the U.S. this century. We reviewed data on wildfires that burned 100,000 acres or more since 2000 from the National Interagency Fire Center’s Fire (NIFC) and Aviation Management Web Applications Program to compile our list.
Because of extended drought, high temperatures, and dry grasslands, the western continental states and Alaska have fallen victim to most of the severe wildfires in the nation’s history. These fires have also been some of the nation’s worst natural disasters. Here is the worst natural disaster in every state.