2012: Record Year for Wildfires

Dec 6, 2012

By Staff Writer

Many homeowners have felt the impacts of damaging wildfires this year, but with two months left in 2012, this year’s wildfire season is likely to officially go down in history as one of the worst wildfire seasons in U.S. history.

More than 8.7 million acres have already burned in the U.S., which is nearing the record of 9.8 million total acres burned set in 2006, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

As wildfires continue to throughout the western U.S., particularly in Idaho, Washington, and California, the number of acres burned this year is likely to exceed the 2006 record. In fact, the number of acres burned at this time of the year is more than 2 million acres above the ten year average, according to NIFC.

This year’s severe wildfire season has been fueled by one of the largest droughts in U.S. history. In July, drought conditions forced the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue its largest disaster declaration.

Severe wildfires first began in New Mexico in May, where residents experienced the largest wildfire in the state’s history. Colorado was the next state to feel the impacts of damaging fires. The state’s Colorado’s Waldo Canyon and High Park fires have reached nearly an estimated $450 million in insured losses, according to information gathered by the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA). In particular, the Waldo Canyon fire has become the most damaging fire in state history.

Meanwhile, more acres have burned in Idaho than in any other state (1,529,715 acres), according to NIFC. In California, a wildfire in the northern part of the state claimed at least 50 structures, while residents in Southern California had to battle their own wildfires. In Washington, at least 60 structures were lost in a recent wildfire, while more homes continue to be threatened by ongoing fires.

Reduce your wildfire risks today by answering the following questions posed by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) below. Afterwards, find additional wildfire resources at IBHS’ DisasterSafety.org.

How is your home at risk? Find out by using the IBHS Wildfire Home Assessment Checklist.

How do I create defensible space? Find IBHS guidance on how to create and maintain defensible space surrounding your home here.

What are my region’s wildfire risks? Use IBHS’ regional wildfire retrofit guides to find out

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