Eastern U.S. Wildfires are More Common Than You Think
As a country, the United States is no stranger to wildfires. And while most of us think of the western states when we hear the word “wildfire”, the National Interagency Coordination Center Wildland Fire Summary and Statistics Annual Report for 2021 reveals something surprising; in 2021, 55% of all wildfires were located in the Southern and Eastern Areas. This means that fire season has changed dramatically in recent years, and it’s time to start paying attention to this growing danger.
What Causes Wildfires in the East?
Wildfires in the east are primarily caused by lightning strikes and human negligence—in particular, unattended campfires and discarded cigarettes. In some cases, prescribed burns—controlled fires set by land managers to clear away underbrush and reduce fuel loads—also have unintended consequences. These controlled fires can escape their intended boundaries if not managed correctly or if conditions such as wind or drought cause them to spread more quickly than expected.
The Impact of Wildfires on Eastern Communities
Wildfires can have devastating effects on communities throughout the eastern U.S., especially those that are located near forested areas or areas with high levels of dry vegetation or brush. In addition to causing property damage and destruction, wildland fires can also produce hazardous air quality conditions due to smoke inhalation and release of toxins from burning materials like plastics or paint. Furthermore, wildland fires can cause disruption for local businesses who rely on tourism or recreation activities in areas affected by fires.
Wildland fires are a growing concern throughout the United States, but particularly in the Southern and Eastern Areas where 55% of all wildfire starts occurred during 2021 according to NIFC’s report. As temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, we must take proactive steps now to reduce our risk of wildfire damage both locally and nationally—this includes everything from being careful when camping out or smoking outdoors to supporting public policies that promote fire management practices that protect communities from destructive wildland blazes. Together we can work towards a future where wildfires become less common occurrences rather than a regular part of life each summer season!