Texas Wildfire, Bigger Than Rhode Island, Out Of Control

Janice Carriger Pexels

A series of wildfires, which has grown larger than the footprint of Rhode Island, continue to rage out of control. They have created a massive threat to both property and lives. The largest fire among those burning in the same area is known as the Smokehouse Creek Fire. It has burned 1,300 square miles. The fire has destroyed several homes, the extent of which cannot be determined. At least one person has died. 

Cost Of Wild FiresAn Extremely Fast Increase In Healthcare Costs

Wildfire SeasonGetting Longer

Wildfires are more frequent as global warming has continued to cause drought and high winds. A study from the Joint Economic Committee released last year put the annual cost of climate-triggered wildfires at hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Its authors wrote, “The total annual economic burden of wildfires in the United States is between $394 billion and $893 billion.” This includes the cost of a drop in real estate values, smoke damage, lost income, insurance payouts, and timber damage. 

The Texas fires are also a reminder of how fires have grown in size. Last year, over 400 fires in Canada burned an area, in the aggregate, the size of North Dakota. The fires sent heavy smoke to New York City and as far west as Minneapolis. The also destroyed small towns and caused tens of thousand of people to leave their homes. The economic cost of the Canadian fires ran well into the billions of dollars. One estimate of the costs to fight the fires reached nearly $780 million. 

Wildfire activity is expected to increase over time. According to the Desert Research Institute, “…extreme wildfire risk will increase by an average of 10 days across the continental U.S. by the end of the century, driven largely by increased temperatures.” The figure is forecast to be much higher in Oklahoma and Texas, where the massive wildfire is burning in Texas now.

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