NICC releases wildfire stats for 2010

The National Interagency Coordination Center has released a massive compilation of wildfire occurrence and mobilization statistics for 2010. The 70 pages of data is broken up into 5 .pdf documents that can be found HERE. Much of it is very interesting and points out the fact that the 2010 fire season was much less active than normal. (We provided some data on this subject on December 10.)

Below we include some excerpts from the report:

wildfire Acres BurnedWildfire Acres burned by Agency, 2010

Prescribed fire acres burned 2010Type One Incident Management Teams committed annuallyWildfire crews mobilized annually

National Fire Activity Synopsis

The 2010 fire season was below normal for number of reported wildfires at 94 percent of the 10-year average by the end of the year. There were 71,971 wildfires reported nationally (compared to 78,792 wildfires reported in 2009). The number of acres burned in 2010 was 3,422,724. This represents just 52 percent of the 10-year average. Alaska led the nation in acres-burned in 2010, with over 1.1 million acres burned.

Three Geographic Areas reported above an average number of fires in 2010: Alaska, Eastern and Southern Areas. Only Eastern Great Basin Geographic Area experienced above average 7 acres burned in 2010 at 107 percent of its 10-year average. This was largely due to two very large fires that burned in southern Idaho. Nine fires or complexes exceeded 40,000 acres in size in 2010, compared to 27 in 2009 and 24 in 2008 (see Significant Fire Activity below).

Across much of the western U.S., June rains delayed the onset of fire season. By late July, 10 of the 11 Geographic Areas were seeing large fire activity. However, fire activity did not become significantly concentrated in any single Geographic Area, and the fires that did occur generally burned in light fuels and did not create significant suppression issues.

Notable fires of 2010 included the Schultz fire just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona which burned 15,000 acres in mid-June. This fire caused the evacuation of 750 homes. Monsoonal flash flooding a few weeks after the fire resulted in a massive mud and debris flow that came out of the burned area and into a subdivision. A Type 2 Incident Management Team was mobilized as a result of the debris flow. The Four Mile Canyon fire near Boulder, Colorado burned 167 residences and several outbuildings in early September. This wind-driven fire ultimately burned nearly 6,200 acres. Two massive rangeland fires in Idaho were the largest fires of 2010 that occurred in the contiguous U.S. The Long Butte fire scorched 306,000 acres near Hagerman, Idaho, and the Jefferson fire burned 109,000 acres of rangeland near the Idaho National Laboratory.

A total of 788 structures were destroyed by wildland fires, including 338 residences, 445 outbuildings and 5 businesses. This is well below the annual average of 1,179 residences, 1,156 outbuildings and 42 businesses destroyed by wildfire (statistics compiled from 1999 to present).

The 2010 fire season did not see any serious competition for firefighting resources. In fact, mobilizations of Area Command, NIMO, and Incident Management Teams were down significantly in 2010. The demand for national Incident Management Teams was significantly lower in 2010. National Type 1 Teams were mobilized just 10 times and spent just 92 days on assignments. This includes one non-fire flood recovery assignment in Arkansas. Nine of the 16 teams were not assigned to an incident.

Type 2 Teams were mobilized 65 times and spent 672 days assigned in 2010 (figures include both national and regional teams). In 2009 there were 62 Type 2 assignments for 571 assignment days. None of the nation’s four Area Command teams were mobilized in 2010. Three of the four National Incident Management Organizations (NIMO) were mobilized six times to both fire and non-fire incidents, including one international fire assignment to Israel.

In April, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Gulf of Mexico created a significant all-hazard incident for the Southern Geographic Area. Various wildland fire and natural resource personnel were ordered for incident support and management in response to this national disaster.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.