U.S. Wildfire Statistics 2022

The state of wildfires in the U.S. are growing at an alarming rate. Today, we share some of the most important statistics we think you should know about.

This content comes from research provided by Bankrate, who kindly allowed us to share it on our website. 

 

Wildfire rates are at an all-time high given the current state of the climate causing rising temperatures and dry vegetation. We're witnessing this all over the globe - but most notably in the U.S.

Important wildfire statistics

  • 4.5 million U.S. homes are at high or extreme risk from wildfires. (Verisk)
  • There were 58,985 wildfires in 2021, which affected 7.1 million acres, compared to just 18,229 wildfires and 1,323,666 acres lost in 1983 when official record-keeping began. (NIFC)
  • There was a 17% increase from 2019 to 2021 in U.S. wildfires and a 223% increase since 1983. (NIFC)
  • Humans cause as many as 90% of wildfires. (U.S. Department of Interior)
  • Five of California‚Äôs top 20 biggest wildfires occurred in 2020. (iii)
  • 2020 wildfires in the U.S. caused $16.5 billion in damages, making it the third-costliest year on record; 2017 being the highest at $24 billion and 2018 a close second at $22 billion. These figures do not account for indirect damages, which experts estimate cost around $150 billion for the record-setting 2018 wildfire season. (Yale Climate Connections)
  • 2020 wildfires cost California 4.2 million acres of land, 10,500 structures and the lives of at least 31 people. (iii)

 

The worst wildfires in U.S. history

  1. Camp Fire, 2018: Total damages from the costliest U.S. wildfire of all time are estimated at $10 billion, roughly $10.38 billion in 2020 value.
  2. Tubbs Fire, 2017: The Tubbs fire incurred $8.7 billion in estimated insured losses or about $9.23 billion by 2020 value.
  3. Woolsey Fire, 2018: The Woolsey Fire cost $4.2 billion in estimated losses, or $4.36 million with inflation.
  4. Oakland Fire (Tunnel), 1991: This wildfire in the early 90s caused estimated losses of $1.7 billion, or $3.24 billion with 2020 inflation value.
  5. Atlas Fire, 2017: The Atlas Fire cost about $3 billion in damages, or what would be $3.18 billion in 2020.
  6. Glass Fire, 2020: The Glass Fire cost about $2.9 billion when it occurred.
  7. CZU Lightning Complex Fire, 2020: The CZU Lightning Complex Fire cost $2.43 billion in estimated insured losses.

 

Wildfires in recent years

Wildfires continue to damage properties and burn through millions of acres each year, with 2020 seeing more wildfires and acres burned than ever before, according to the NIFC:

  • 2021: 58,985 fires affecting 7,100,000 acres
  • 2020: 58,950 fires affecting 10,122,336 acres
  • 2019: 50,477 fires affecting 4,664,364 acres
  • 2018: 58,083 fires affecting 8,767,492 acres

 

How much does the US spend to suppress wildfires?

The National Interagency Fire Center offers data on annual suppression costs for U.S. wildfires. The five-year average costs the Forest Service almost $2 billion, while the cost to DOI agencies was more than $453 million. The total ten-year average is less, at $1.91 billion, suggesting that the cost of suppressing these fires is going up over time. At $2.274 billion, 2020 was the most expensive year since 2018, when the total costs topped $3.143 billion.

Year-Over-Year Annual Wildfire Suppression Costs

Year Forest Service DOI Agencies Total
2020 $1,764,000,000 $510,000,000 $2,274,000,000
2019 $1,150,000,000 $440,000,000 $1,590,000,000
2018 $2,615,256,000 $528,000,000 $3,143,256,000
2017 $2,410,165,000 $508,000,000 $2,918,165,000
2016 $1,603,806,000 $371,739,000 $1,975,545,000
2015 $1,713,000,000 $417,543,000 $2,130,543,000

 

Due to the sheer increase in cost and damage that wildfires are causing, it's clear to see that more preventative measures need to take place. That's where TracPlus wants to step in and help. 

At TracPlus, we offer a cloud-based common operating platform which allows agencies and operators to keep track of their assets in real-time through cell/satellite tracking and communication. (Think: coordinating where your helicopters, trucks, and ground crew all are at the same time on one screen). This have been proven to increase response-time efficiency and improve crew safety - and is utilised by over 750 global companies including CALFire, Kestrel Aviation, and Skywork Helicopters.

If this interests you, please feel free to reach out to us to learn more.

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