Wildfires have always been a problem and can be devastating. They can ruin land for years to come, destroy structures in a matter of minutes and take lives. They often sweep quickly through dry land, and it may take hundreds or thousands of acres of destruction before crews can even start controlling them. Make no mistake, these are a real threat all over the United States.
What is most concerning is that they are just getting worse. Year after year, you can see the trend when looking at the acres that burn.
Granted, the graph does have plenty of ups and downs. 1996 saw almost 6,120,000 acres burn, for instance, while 1997 saw just over 1,000,000. If you look at the long-term trends from about 1984, though, you see an overall rise. That year, there were around 1,000,000 acres that burned. Through the ups and downs of the coming decades, we arrived at 2017 with nearly 10,000,000 acres that burned. That’s about 10 times as much destruction over about three decades.
If it continues at that rate, it will be alarming to see how much destruction happens in the next decade or two. Researchers seem to think that could very well be the case, blaming everything from federal policies to residential patterns to the overall impact of climate change. The cost to fight these fires has also been increasing, reaching nearly $3 billion in 2017.
As the wildland fire issues continue to grow, it is going to progressively become more and more important for those impacted by these fires to know what legal options they have.