According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 2012 has broken the record for the most acres burned by wildfire to date, beating the previous record set in 2006. So far this year, nearly 7 million acres have burned due to the consequences of severe heat and drought, and 39 large fires are currently burning through over 1.4 million acres.
Aside from the agricultural effects, wildfires come at a pretty high financial cost, too. In Utah, more than 1,000 wildfires have cost over $50 million just to fight so far this year. The cost of the 50,000-acre Chips Fire in Northern California, which is still going strong, has reached over $17 million, and counting. Hundreds of homes have been lost as well, and tourism industries in the western parts of the United States that contribute millions to the local economy have suffered devastating losses.
As if it could get any worse, wildfire effects are probably going to take a toll on local health as well. If you’re suffering from asthma or other bronchial problems, out west isn’t the place you want to be. Between an increase in food prices due to the severe drought, health issues, and the destruction of hundreds of homes, it sounds like the economy may take another hit.
Image CC licensed by Chips Fire: Fire spreading past powerlines, August 6, 2012