Ongoing drought conditions continue to contribute to the unusually active western wildfire season. As of the end of July according to the National Interagency Fire Center, there were just over 4 million acres burned by July 31st this year. The (ten-year) average number of acres burned by the same date is not quite 2 million acres. Some of the contiguous states which have suffered the most acreage destroyed by wildfire include Arizona (nearly 630,000 acres), Colorado (~380,000 acres) and Oregon (~363,000 acres), all as of the end of July. Many states (especially Oregon) have had many more acres burned during the first couple of weeks of August (see august section below). More details can also be found on the National Interagency Fire Center's web-site.

One of the major wildfires in July was Oregon's Sour Biscuit fire which was reportedly started by lightning. Most of the large fires in July occurred in Oregon, California, Idaho, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. Further information on this year's fire season can be found at the National Interagency Fire Center's web-site.

Agriculture and the cattle industry were severely impacted by the continuing wildfire activity in the West and water shortages were experienced in many localities. According to, this fire season has already seen record fire losses -- 4 million acres and more than 1,800 homes have been burned.

By State Approximate Number of Acres Burned, as of July 31, 2002
Alaska 1,047,937
Arizona 628,675
California 233,967
Colorado 381,870
Idaho 34,502
Nevada 69,113
New Mexico 298,043
Oregon 362,972
Utah 230,149
Washington 56,188
Seasonal (January 1-July 31) wildfire statistics, according to the National Interagency Fire Center:
As of July 31 Nationwide Number of Fires Nationwide Number of Acres Burned
2002 52,747 4,057,663
2001 49,885 1,531,121
2000 60,293 3,488,932
10-year Average 53,742 1,963,598

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Monthly Wildfires Report for July 2002, published online August 2002, retrieved on June 19, 2024 from