Wildfires Have Burned Over 6.6 Million U.S. Acres in 2022: Here are the Biggest Blazes Burning Now

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

Cooler, damper weather along the east coast has officially marked the start of fall, the chill air combining with bright gold and red leaves to really highlight the change of season. However, the American West continues to battle a different reality, with 2022 wildfires having scorched over 6.6 million acres of land across the United States as of early September. As wildland firefighters continue working to contain the blazes well into October, we’re looking at where wildfire danger remains the most severe.

States Most Heavily Affected by 2022 Blazes:

According to The Hill, there were more than 90 active fires burning in the U.S during the back half of September. Of those 90+ fires at the time, just four were considered contained. The largest active wildfires in the country then were located in Oregon, California, and Idaho.

Now, things have transitioned a little with October’s largest active fires burning in Alaska, New Mexico, and Oregon. The current stats are a bit surprising as October usually represents a month of increased fire danger in California. However, the last several weeks have blessed the coastal state with cooler temperatures and wetter weather conditions, making for unfavorable wildfire conditions. Overall, this means the state’s been experiencing far fewer wildfires throughout October than is usual. Still, California endured some intense wildfire conditions earlier this summer, with the Mosquito Fire named the state’s largest blaze of 2022 early last month.

The massive total acreage scorched this year emphasizes the way that climate change—including triple-digit temperatures, drought, and high winds—has intensified already devastating wildfires in recent years. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore spoke out about the effects of climate change on the West several months ago, at the start of the season.

“Climate change is leading to conditions on the ground we have never encountered,” he said.

On a broader scale, agencies in multiple western states are contending with “large” wildfires. These states include Alaska, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, and California. Other U.S. states are struggling with significantly less though equally impactful fires of their own.

Washington Wildfire Smoke Affecting Populations in Vancouver

Though flames from annual wildfires pose a major risk to Americans across the west, wildfire smoke is another serious detriment that has far-reaching effects.

Right now, there are nine active wildfires across Washington and the state’s air quality remains on the decline as it continues to drift across the Northwest. Even more significant though is that wildfire smoke from Washington’s ongoing blazes have actually begun to drift as far as Vancouver. And the smoke’s having detrimental effects on Vancouver residents as well as those in Washington.

Metro Vancouver said in a recent press release, “Smoke concentrations may very widely across the region as winds and temperatures change, and as wildfire behaviour changes.” The release further read that WA’s wildfires are also “contributing to hazy conditions already being experienced in Metro Vancouver.”