Wildfires - September 2007


Fire activity in early September was focused across the Northern Rockies, with numerous large fires burning in central Idaho and western Montana.

By the end of the month, wildfire activity had mostly abated across most of the U.S., although in early October several large fires had initiated across parts of the Tennessee Valley and western North Carolina.

As of October 2nd, only 4 large fires were actively burning. According to recent estimates from the National Interagency Fire center (NIFC), over 73,000 wildland fires had been reported across the U.S., with over 8.2 million acres burned so far in 2007.

Unusually dry conditions and severe–to–extreme drought across most of the Intermountain West have resulted in a large region of extreme fire potential according to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) experimental fire potential index.

At the end of September, the highest fire danger remained across parts of the Columbia Plateau in eastern Oregon and parts of eastern Montana.

In early September, fire activity in northern California generated a smoke plume and poor air quality that spread across northern portions of the Great Basin. By mid–September, wildfires and smoke were impacting parts of southern California and Nevada

Dead fuel moisture levels have remained extremely dry across the western U.S. during September. The 10–hour fuel moisture levels on September 27th were exceptionally dry throughout most of the western U.S., and were also unusually dry across the Carolinas and Virginia due to widespread drought.

2007 Wildfire Statistics (Source: NIFC)
Totals as of October 1st Nationwide Number of Fires Nationwide Number of Acres Burned
10/1/2007 73,256 8,227,255
10/1/2006 83,912 9,091,808
10/1/2005 53,413 8,167,090
10/1/2004 61,355 7,732,232
10/1/2003 49,397 3,190,239
10/1/2002 67,424 6,657,049
10/1/2001 63,221 3,229,179
10/1/2000 80,386 6,891,451
5–yr average
(2003 – 2007)
64,267 7,281,724
10–yr average
(1997 – 2006)
66,900 5,722,456

Medium to larger fuels (i.e., the September 27th 100–hr and September 27th 1000–hr fuel moistures) were also very dry, with exceptionally dry fuel conditions across an area that encompassed northern Nevada and southern Idaho.

The Keetch–Byram Drought Index (KBDI), a widely used drought index for fire risk, had the largest potential for wildland fire activity in the contiguous U.S. across a large portion of California, as well as over most of the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Tennessee Valley, and the Southeast.


Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Wildfires for September 2007, published online October 2007, retrieved on July 24, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/fire/2007/9.