The 2012 fire season has proven to be challenging in its severity and fire conditions due to overall drought conditions occurring in about 70 percent of the nation. The hardest-hit parts are the central and southern Plains, the mid and upper Mississippi Valley, and parts of northern Georgia and eastern Alabama, but much of the interior West is experiencing severe to extreme drought as well. In the West, increased fine-fuel loads consisting of lingering dead and standing vegetation have created heavy and continuous fuel beds, leading to a number of exceptionally large, fast-moving rangeland wildfires.
Conditions in California are becoming more conducive to wildfire, an active season is possible, first, in Northern California, and later in the fall, in Southern California. Northwestern Nevada, southern and central Idaho and southeastern Oregon continue to be at high risk of wildfire because of lack of precipitation and abundance of dry fuels. Western Montana and Wyoming remains very dry and is at high risk until perhaps mid September. The fire season in the Southwest is mostly over . Alaska had a mild fire season.
- NIFC Predictive Services – Fuels and Fire Danger Outlook
- Drought Severity Index (updated Weekly)
- U.S. Drought Monitor•
- Residents living in drought stricken areas should reduce brush, trees and other flammable materials away from their home. A community that has adapted to fire is a better-protected community.
- Before building a campfire, check local regulations.
- Follow all public-use restrictions and access closures. It is important to check with local public agencies about any closures before venturing off road.
- When putting a campfire out, drown it with water. Stir the fire with water and dirt until all fuel is cold to the touch. Never leave a fire until it is out cold.
- Campers are asked to be careful with gas lanterns, barbeques, gas stoves and anything else that can be a source of ignition for a wildfire.
- Each year, machinery and equipment are the cause of numerous wildfires. With a little extra care, most of these fires are easily preventable. Clean accumulated grass and debris away from exhaust systems and bearings. Make sure all bearings are lubricated. Service all spark arresters. Keep a shovel, water and working fire extinguisher on the equipment.
- Keep vehicles off dry grass. Exhaust systems can heat up to 1,000 degrees and ignite adjacent grasses and shrubs. Park only in designated parking areas or over non-flammable surfaces (such as graveled or dirt areas), and never in tall grass.
- Expect the unexpected and stay on designated roads and trails. When operating vehicles “off road” (or across grassy or brushy open fields), there are many hidden hazards that can disable a vehicle, bringing the exhaust system into prolonged contact with dry grass, or brush. Grasses and brush can also get caught beneath the vehicle and come into contact with the exhaust system, allowing the vehicle to spread fire over great distances.
- Report any sign of smoke or fire to an adult immediately. Children should not try to put out a fire themselves. This is a job for an adult.
- Children can easily learn about fire prevention. Additional fire prevention information for children can be found at Smokey Bear’s web site
The BIA and the tribes are especially concerned about how to deal with intentionally set wildfires. The BIA has teamed up with WeTip, a national non-profit organization that offers a 24/7 telephone tip hotline (1-800-472-7766) for people to report information anonymously.Links to Additional Information: