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  • Writer's pictureWildfire Aware

Fire in the Hills: Why the West is Burning

If you've been following the news, then you might have heard about the wildfires ravaging Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. This year has seen a particularly devastating surge of fires that have burned millions of acres across the region. In fact, according to recent estimates, these three states account for over 48% of all acres burned in the United States this year. So why is this happening? Let’s take a closer look at what’s fueling the flames in these Western regions.

Climate Change

The science is clear—climate change is making wildfire season longer and more intense than ever before. A warming climate leads to longer, drier summers that are prime conditions for large-scale fires. In addition, rising temperatures lead to an increase in lightning storms—which were responsible for sparking some of this year's biggest blazes—as well as increased winds that can rapidly spread existing fires.

Homes in Wildfire Zones

As populations continue to grow in areas prone to wildfire, more and more homes are being built on land that was once wild and undeveloped. As a result, there are now many homes located directly within fire zones which increases their risk of destruction from an out of control blaze. This means that firefighters have an even tougher job when it comes to protecting both lives and property from fast-moving flames.

Failed Forest Management

Due to budget constraints and other issues, forest management practices have not kept up with demand in recent years—particularly in California where forests are increasingly overgrown with dead vegetation that serves as kindling for fires once they start burning. To make matters worse, human activity such as logging and development can also contribute to increased fire risk by providing additional fuel sources or reducing natural barriers between forests and residential areas.

While 2021 has already seen some of the worst wildfire-related destruction on record across Northern California and parts of the Northwest US, there is still hope for preventing future disasters like these from occurring again in the future. Effective forest management combined with climate change mitigation efforts could help reduce fire risk moving forward—but only if we act now before it’s too late!

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