Wildfires burned over 10 million acres in the U.S. in 2020 — the second largest expanse of land burned on record. Although there are fewer wildfires now compared to 15 years ago, more land is burning, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Higher temperatures and reduced precipitation related to climate change and the impact of large populations are increasing the frequency and risk of wildfires in Western North America. Wildfires this summer are continuing to break records, triggered by historically high heat. Summer wildfire seasons are now 40 to 80 days longer, on average, than reported 30 years ago.
Property damage is just one of the many risks accompanying wildfires. But millions of homes continue to be built in “wildland-urban interface” areas, according to Jim Foerster, a Certified Consulting Meteorologist. He warns that residents in these areas could face “power outages, which could cause business interruptions and construction delays, and air quality issues, which could result in added costs for things like advanced air filtration technology.”