Pat Shingleton: "More Drought, More Blazes..."
For many years sections of the West have endured drought conditions. This is one of the elements in what could be future episodes of severe wildfires. Fire ecologists at the University of Montana analyzed last Summer's wildfires, including the tragic blaze in Yarnell, Arizona that killed 19 elite firefighters. Gusty winds and 100 degree temperatures advanced flames across bone-dry grasslands. Since the 1970s, the Associated Press reports that the number of wildfires larger than a thousand acres in the Western United States has doubled. In addition, extremely large fires have also increased. Over the same time period, spring and summer temperatures in 11 western states have risen by more than 1.5 degrees prompting more future fires.
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