This summer’s (2021) fire season could be as bad as the wildfire season of 2015, which was the worst season in our state’s history, according to an analyst with the Department of Natural Resources. The sun may be out but with no rain in the forecast this is not what the DNR wants to see. “You know, we started out with a really dry Spring and we haven’t had much of that catch-up moisture at all,” said Vaughn Cork, a fuel analyst with DNR. Not to mention that we had those historically hot days last week.
What actually happened:
But despite severe heat and drought-like conditions, the 2021 wildfire season was not as devastating with human and property loss as prior years. Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz credits the state’s ability to respond to wildfires more rapidly in part to the passage of HB 1168, which commits $125 every two years over the next four biennial budgets to boost wildfire response and accelerate forest restoration. These investments helped Department of Natural Resources (DNR) address fires swiftly and attack smaller fires earlier to prevent many of them from growing into large-scale wildfires, she noted.2021 wildfire season summary – Washington Forest Protection Association (wfpa.org)
2021 Washington wildfire statistics:
- A total 674,249 acres burned
- 88% (1,640 total) of Washington wildfires were human-caused
- 12% (232 total) of Washington wildfires were lightning-caused
- 44 Washington fires met the large fire criteria- described as fires larger than 1,000 acres in the western United States
- Burning a total 107,118 acres, the Schneider Spring fires was the state’s largest wildfire
How did this compare to prior years?
- In 2020, over 800,000 acres burned.
- In 2015, over 1.2 million acres burned.
2021 was not even close to “worst in state history”. Yet another expert projection of future conditions failed, spectacularly.