This May, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources warned that the 2014 wildfire season could be more intense than average. Which is a scary thought, given that the state is still recovering from 2013, when 764 fires burned nearly 200 square miles of protected land.
In May 2013 the state had already received 1.35 inches* of rain; by May of 2014, there had only been .18* inches.
Anatomy of a Fire: If all factors (wind, fuel, slope of the area, obstructions, etc.) are equal, a wildfire will burn in an elliptical pattern. If not, it can take on all kinds of shapes.†
(Hover over red bulletpoints)
“Mother Nature does what Mother Nature does. We have to plan accordingly.” —Albert Kassel, Washington State DNR resource protection division manager
Acres burned in 2013: 126,108
◼︎ Human Cause: 113,506 acres; 207% increase over 2012
◼︎ Natural Cause (i.e. lightning): 12,602 acres
◼︎ Colockum Tarps Fire: 80,184 acres between July 27 and August 14. Possible cause: Faulty electrical wiring at a cherry orchard
◼︎ Other human-caused fires: 33,322 acres, which includes fires started by campers, kids, and smokers
† Source: Introduction to Fire Behavior Modeling, Wildland Fire Management RD&A
* Measured at Pangborn Memorial Airport in Wenatchee
This feature appeared in the August 2014 issue of Seattle Met magazine.