Aftermath: An entire neighborhood with the exception of a few homes lies in ruins after the Waldo Canyon fire swept through Colorado Springs, Colorado (June 30, 2012).Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
State and federal resources have been stretched to the limit as 45 blazes, which claimed at least six lives and forced thousands of residents to flee, continue to affect nine states.
“Drought, rising temperatures, a century of fire suppression policies that allowed many forested areas to grow unnaturally thick with fuel, and more and more people living on the wilderness edge have thrust the West into this new era of bigger and fiercer burns,” Los Angeles Times reported. “The amount of land charred every year has soared compared with previous decades.
“Since 2000, it has not been uncommon for wildfire seasons to end with a tally of 7 million to 9 million blackened acres nationally. Though total burned acreage dropped during a few years of milder weather, it spiraled again last year when flames galloped across parched Texas.”
Over just three days in June 2012, a blaze in New Mexico, the largest in the state’s history, consumed 54 square miles of forest in Lincoln National Park.
Colorado has also suffered the worst fires since record-keeping began in the state.
“In Colorado alone, three fires have destroyed more than 600 homes and killed six residents,” The Associated Press reported.
“We’re really just at the start of our severe fire season,” Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association told Insurance Journal. “Given our fire danger I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a tragically historic season.”