Wildfire Suppression

Acreage Burned, 1987-2017

The United States has seen acreage burned by wildfire grow over the past 30 years. Wildfire seasons in the 1980s would rarely scorch more than four million acres. Now a typical wildfire season tops eight million acres burned each year, with seasons in 2015 and 2017 each breaking ten million acres. 

Year

Acres - Forest Service + DOI

Acres - Federal (CA Only)

1987

2,447,296

744,000

1988

5,009,290

96,000

1989

1,827,310

87,800

1990

4,621,621

128,100

1991

2,953,578

18,800

1992

2,069,929

86,340

1993

1,797,574

67,646

1994

4,073,579

359,227

1995

1,840,546

78,414

1996

6,065,998

488,010

1997

2,856,959

198,431

1998

1,329,704

90,246

1999

5,626,093

865,621

2000

7,383,493

218,578

2001

3,570,911

275,152

2002

7,184,712

366,842

2003

3,960,842

399,635

2004

8,097,880

110,082

2005

8,689,389

139,399

2006

9,873,745

603,378

2007

9,328,045

990,730

2008

5,292,468

1,153,973

2009

5,921,786

339,908

2010

3,422,724

98,871

2011

8,711,367

73,124

2012

9,326,238

687,013

2013

4,319,546

450,126

2014

3,595,613

451,810

2015

10,125,149

577,115

2016

5,503,538

412,990

2017

10,026,086

1,266,224 

Average Fire Acreage, 1987-2017

Fueling the record seasons of 2015 and 2017 are fires that are increasing in size, not just frequency. 

Year

Average Acreage - Nation

Average Acreage - CA

1987

34.3

170.1

1988

68.9

23.1

1989

37.3

34.5

1990

69.5

48.0

1991

39.0

7.0

1992

23.7

23.4

1993

30.6

38.1

1994

51.5

133.1

1995

22.4

50.2

1996

62.9

185.1

1997

43.2

91.0

1998

16.4

48.5

1999

60.8

275.8

2000

80.0

116.0

2001

42.5

107.2

2002

97.8

199.7

2003

62.2

224.1

2004

123.7

59.4

2005

130.2

86.9

2006

102.4

251.4

2007

108.8

512.8

2008

67.0

523.8

2009

75.2

186.8

2010

47.6

61.2

2011

117.5

36.2

2012

137.6

439.8

2013

90.8

203.4

2014

56.9

230.5

2015

148.6

264.2

2016

81.4

338.5

2017

140.2

132.5 

Suppression Costs in California, 1985-2017

The costs of fighting fires in California is increasing at a faster rate than the size of the fires, due in part to the additional funds needed to protect structures and life that now reside in fire-prone regions.

Wildland fire suppression in California is divided up between the United States Forest Service, the Department of the Interior, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

 

 Year

Forest Service

Department of the Interior

CalFire

1985

$161,505,000.00

$78,438,000.00

$35,510,000.00

1986

$111,625,000.00

$91,153,000.00

$14,799,000.00

1987

$253,657,000.00

$81,452,000.00

$56,769,000.00

1988

$429,609,000.00

$149,317,000.00

$57,983,000.00

1989

$331,672,000.00

$168,115,000.00

$39,345,000.00

1990

$253,700,000.00

$144,252,000.00

$70,825,000.00

1991

$132,300,000.00

$73,820,000.00

$22,524,000.00

1992

$290,300,000.00

$87,166,000.00

$85,591,000.00

1993

$184,000,000.00

$56,436,000.00

$65,679,000.00

1994

$757,200,000.00

$161,135,000.00

$69,858,000.00

1995

$367,000,000.00

$110,126,000.00

$60,400,000.00

1996

$547,500,000.00

$153,683,000.00

$107,000,000.00

1997

$179,100,000.00

$105,048,000.00

$47,700,000.00

1998

$306,800,000.00

$109,904,000.00

$43,800,000.00

1999

$361,100,000.00

$154,416,000.00

$178,500,000.00

2000

$1,076,000,000.00

$334,802,000.00

$114,000,000.00

2001

$683,122,000.00

$269,574,000.00

$166,000,000.00

2002

$1,279,000,000.00

$395,040,000.00

$135,000,000.00

2003

$1,023,500,000.00

$303,638,000.00

$252,000,000.00

2004

$726,000,000.00

$281,244,000.00

$170,000,000.00

2005

$524,900,000.00

$294,054,000.00

$117,000,000.00

2006

$1,280,419,000.00

$424,058,000.00

$206,000,000.00

2007

$1,149,654,000.00

$470,491,000.00

$524,000,000.00

2008

$1,193,073,000.00

$392,783,000.00

$499,000,000.00

2009

$702,111,000.00

$218,418,000.00

$274,000,000.00

2010

$578,285,000.00

$231,214,000.00

$90,100,000.00

2011

$1,055,736,000.00

$318,789,000.00

$140,000,000.00

2012

$1,436,614,000.00

$465,832,000.00

$310,000,000.00

2013

$1,341,735,000.00

$399,199,000.00

$242,000,000.00

2014

$1,195,955,000.00

$326,194,000.00

$402,000,000.00

2015

$1,713,000,000.00

$417,543,000.00

$608,000,000.00

2016

$1,603,806,000.00

$371,739,000.00

$534,000,000.00

2017

$2,410,165,000.00

$508,000,000.00

$773,000,000.00


Sources:

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection – Fire Suppression Expenditures 

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection – California Wildfires and Acres for All Jurisdictions

National Interagency Fire Center – Federal Firefighting Costs (Suppression Only)

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