krem.com – Wildfires have burned almost 300,000 acres in Washington, Oregon and Idaho in the past 90 days as of Wednesday morning, according to information posted on InciWeb.
That acreage is equivalent to over 462 square miles, which is more than three times the size of Seattle (142.5 square miles) and 50% larger than New York City (304.6 square miles).
Thirty-four different fires are listed as active between the three states, including the 83,000 acre Soda Fire in southwest Idaho near the Oregon border.
The Soda wildfire closed US 95 Tuesday night, has burned one structure, and is threatening a number of ranches in the area. Its cause is not known, but officials believe it may have sparked by a lightning strike.
The Pacific Northwest isn’t alone in its battle with wildfires. In fact, wildfires had burned 5.5 million acres in the U.S. by the end of July, an area equal to the size of New Jersey.
Alaska has taken the biggest brunt of the fires. Eighty-five percent of the acres burned in the U.S. this year have been in Alaska — a total of 4.7 million acres.
California and Montana have also experienced huge wildfires this season.
A fire in Glacier National Park in Montana has burned 11,400 acres. In California, 9,000 firefighters are battling 24 wildfires and Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.
All these wildfires are expensive to fight.
For the first time in history, the U.S. Forest Service said it’s spent more than 50% of its budget fighting fires. Twenty years ago, firefighting made up 16% of the Forest Service’s annual budget.
While this season has been severe, it hasn’t topped the fire damage from 2014. Last year, the Carlton Complex Fires became the largest wildfire in Washington state history after it scorched 256,108 acres in the north central part of the state.
InciWeb is a government-run information management system.