Wildfires - June 2002
Due to ongoing drought, the western wildfire season in the U.S. has so far been both active and early compared to average. As of the end of June according to the National Interagency Fire Center, there were nearly 2.8 million acres burned in 2002. The (ten-year) average number of acres burned by June 30th is only around 1.1 million acres. The 2001 fire season was near average (though it began somewhat later than usual), however, the 2000 fire season was one of the worst of the last 50 years. The acreage burned so far in 2002 has surpassed the extent of land destroyed by fire by June 30th in 2000 by around 1.2 million acres.
While some of this year's fires were started by lightning, many were reportedly started by human activities as a result of accident or arson. Most of the large fires in June occurred in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, with significant wildfire activity also in evidence in Utah, California, Georgia and Virginia. Further information on this year's fire season can be found on NCDC's drought pages and at the National Interagency Fire Center's web-site.