Reno Fire Chief and data reveals growing wildfire intensity

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 9:48 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - We’re digging into records from the last 141 years to reveal a wildfire trend.

The National Interagency Coordination Center started tracking the number of fires and total acres burned in the United States since 1983.

Click here to see the complete upward trend starting with 1.3 million acres burned in the early 1980′s and 10.1 acres burned in 2020.

Reno Fire Chief Dave Cochran says his crews are experiencing three things.

”So fire season starts earlier, ends later, and in between you have these hotter, more explosive fires,” Chief Cochran said.

KOLO 8 News Now’s Noah Bond asked him why he thinks this is happening.

”It is documented that the average temperatures are increasing and the connection to wildfire is a straight line, a very short straight line,” Chief Cochran responded.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, Earth’s temperature has risen by .14 degrees Fahrenheit each decade since 1880 and the rate of warming over the past 40 years is more than twice that at .32 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1981.

“Those increased temperatures create a greater holding capacity if I can call it that for moisture in the air, essentially evaporation. When you pull moisture into the air you’re pulling it from the ground. From the water from the plants and that’s what really impacts us,” Chief Cochran said.

He says property owners can take action by creating defensible space around their home. These actions may ensure a stronger fight from fire fighters in a wildfire situation.

”A lot of homes get saved. In the Caldor Fire a lot of homes in the Christmas Valley in that area I’m thinking of were saved because they took the precautions that were needed,” Chief Cochran said.

Click here for a list of steps you can take to create defensible space around a property you own.

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