In his June 3 letter, Joseph Addonizio suggests Rocky Barker is not factual when reporting that fire intensity and spread have increased for at least the last 20 years. Addonizio also suggests that “the number of wildfires in this country has been decreasing for 40 years,” and “acreage burned is about the same.”
To argue numbers of fires against fire intensity and spread statistics is just silly, and to appreciate fire effects and costs, arguably the best metrics are fire severity and fire size. According to the National Interagency Fire Center’s records of wildfires in the U.S. from 1983 to 2014, the five largest fires occurred from 2005 to 2012. From 1983 to 1998, about 44.9 million acres burned in just over 1 million fires, and from 1999 to 2014, about 104.3 million acres burned in 1.2 million fires. Clearly acreage burned is not about the same for the last 32 years for which good records exist, and number of fires does not equate well to fire size.
To argue Addonizio’s claim that climate change has not played a role in the recent increases in fire severity, fire size and extreme fire behavior will take at least another 200 words.
Corey Gucker, Boise