WASHINGTON (TIP): Wildfires have burned a phenomenal 5.5 million acres across the U.S. so far this year, an area equal to the size of New Jersey.
This is the second-highest total in at least the past 25 years, according to data from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. Only 2011, which saw 5.8 million acres charred as of July 23 of that year, had more. On average, at this point in the year, 3.5 million acres would have burned.
As of Thursday afternoon, 18 wildfires were burning in seven states, mostly in the West. This includes one in California’s wine country that has forced numerous evacuations and is being fought by hundreds of firefighters, CALFIRE, the state’s firefighting agency, reported. Another one is charring Glacier National Park in Montana.
Summertime heat and ongoing drought conditions have left vegetation starved of moisture throughout the West, making it more susceptible to catching fire and starting a massive blaze, AccuWeather reports.