In 2017 the United States came close to breaking previous statistics. The acres burned
in the 50 states, 9,781,062, was the second highest number since dependable records have been kept.
That is 49 percent higher than the average over the last 10 years. Surprisingly since 1990 the acres that have burned has increased
dramatically, the total number of fires has been slowly decreasing. In 2017, 66,131 fires were reported. That was 4 percent lower than
the 10-year average.
Fires in Alaska are dealt with differently then the other 49 states in the USA. Most
of them are not fully suppressed due to the fact that the fires are less likely to jeopardize people or private property than what
happens in the lower 49 states. The second reason is that the fire occurrence is extremely variable with the acres burned.
The average fire size in 1990 was approximately 22 acres in 1990. In 2017 the number
increased over 170 acres. The average size in 2017 was 139 acres. There could be a number of reasons for this huge increase. The reasons
- When weather is warmer and drier than usual this causes fires more difficult to control and put out.
- One hundred years of fire suppression has caused forests to become more dense. The fires burn with greater intensity.
- Usually due to safety reasons a less assertive strategy is being used on large fires.
- For environmental reasons many fires are permitted to burn naturally without full suppression.
- Possibly there might have been a change in the initial attack of new fires, initially responding with less equipment and personnel.