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Pacific Northwest wildfires have burned 1 million more acres in 2021 compared to this time last year

As of Aug. 15, the region has seen 40 more large wildfires in 2021 compared to 2020.

SEATTLE — Washington and Oregon have already seen more than 20 times more land burned by wildfires this year than last year.

According to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center (NWCC), roughly 52,500 acres had burned across the two states by Aug. 15 last year. This year, nearly 1,054,000 acres have burned by Aug. 15.

Already, the two states have experienced at least 77 large wildfires, which is an increase of 40 compared to this time last year, with Washington experiencing at least 39 large fires and Oregon seeing 38.

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Across the two states, more than 8,000 personnel, 437 fire engines, and 63 helicopters have responded to battle the fires, including the Bootleg Fire, which was the largest wildfire in the country. The fire was finally contained Sunday, having burned more than 413,000 acres.

The 2021 fire season kicked off earlier than normal as the region experiences a historic drought, especially in eastern Washington where residents are in the midst of an exceptional drought. Gov. Jay Inslee declared a wildfire state of emergency in early July and went on to join other governors like Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to speak directly to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris about wildfire relief.

Now, with little more than a month until summer’s end, fires show no sign of slowing down. The NWCC reported two new large fires Monday morning. One is near Chelan, Washington, and the other is northwest of Spokane. Both are already thousands of acres in size and forcing evacuations.

With temperatures cooling and few possible thunderstorms, according to NWCC, the most significant threat for wildfires Monday is the wind, which could gust along the slopes east of the Cascades and into eastern Washington.   

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