Wildfires - June 2004

As reported by the National Interagency Fire Center, fire activity across the U.S. increased substantially during June. By the end of the month, over 1.6 million acres had burned across the U.S. The most significant of the large fire activity occurred in central and eastern Alaska (as well as in the adjacent Yukon Territory of Canada), where numerous fires continued to burn into July.

As of mid-July, over 2.4 million acres had burned across Alaska alone, with most of the fire activity occurring in areas east of Fairbanks. A thick pall of smoke over the region has affected the area for many weeks. Air quality levels from fine particulates (PM 2.5) reached the hazardous category over a large portion of the state.

Prior to June, during the pre-season as well as in May, fire activity had been slightly below average across the U.S. However, by the end of June the situation had changed dramatically, primarily due to the development and persistence of fire activity in Alaska.

Year-to-date (January 1 - June 30) wildfire statistics (from NIFC):
As of June 30, 2004 Nationwide Number of Fires Nationwide Number of Acres Burned
2004 38,622 1,673,557
2003 27,286 767,018
2002 44,759 2,817,641
10-year Average 42,633 1,325,564

Elsewhere, short- and long-term drought conditions have continued to plague a large portion of the western U.S. Dry conditions in the Southwest U.S. have contributed to extremely low dead fuel moisture levels. Fine fuels remained extremely dry across the Southwest and the Great Basin, with 10-hr fuel moistures below 5%. Medium to larger fuels (i.e. 100-hr and 1000-hr) also continued to be extremely dry across the region, with 1000-hr fuels below 10% over most of the Southwest. At the end of June, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), a widely used index for fire risk, has the largest potential for fire activity in the contiguous U.S. across Florida, with areas of the Southwest and California also having increased potential for ignition and large fire development.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Wildfires for June 2004, published online July 2004, retrieved on April 18, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/fire/2004/6.