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Charted: Wildfire Area Burned by U.S. State in 2023

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Wildfires have become a summer specter in North America, looming on the horizon as parts of the country warm and dry out.

We chart the total wildfire area burned in 2023 in the U.S., categorized by state, based on figures from the National Interagency Coordination Center.

Which U.S. States Saw the Most Area Burned by Wildfires?

Wildfires in California and Alaska together account for one-fourth of all land burned in the U.S. in 2023. Both states saw wildfire damage to more than 300,000 acres.

Zooming out, nearly half of the 2.7 million acres affected by wildfires in 2023 were concentrated in only five states.

RankStateAcres Burned (2023)% Of 2023
Acres Burned

1California332,72212%

2Alaska314,27612%

3New Mexico212,3788%

4Texas210,2648%

5Oregon202,0357%

6Arizona188,4837%

7Nebraska180,7337%

8Oklahoma162,4896%

9Washington151,3166%

10Montana123,1335%

11Florida99,6424%

12Idaho87,8013%

13North Carolina73,9533%

14Mississippi52,5082%

15West Virginia45,6792%

16Colorado41,9172%

17Louisiana22,1031%

18Alabama18,3351%

19Utah18,1091%

20New Jersey18,0331%

21Kansas17,9631%

22Tennessee15,3941%

23Virginia12,0850%

24Hawaii12,0590%

25Georgia10,3300%

26Pennsylvania9,6280%

27Missouri9,4990%

28Minnesota9,4160%

29Wyoming7,9340%

30Arkansas5,6590%

31Wisconsin4,8830%

32Maryland4,4860%

33Michigan4,2870%

34North Dakota4,1830%

35Ohio2,4690%

36Massachusetts1,4680%

37New York1,3830%

38Nevada1,3000%

39South Dakota9450%

40South Carolina5910%

41Rhode Island5820%

42Indiana5210%

43Maine3250%

44Connecticut2970%

45Illinois1110%

46Kentucky700%

47Vermont620%

48New Hampshire580%

49Iowa60%

50Delaware00%

N/ATotal2,693,910N/A


Note: Figures rounded in the chart.

Due to hot, dry summers, Western states in particular see more wildfires. The New York Times notes that the American West has a Mediterranean climate where precipitation is concentrated around winter months. Thus the region’s hottest and driest months coincide.

As the summer heats up, the vegetation—pine needles, shrubs, grass—turns into fuel, ripe for a spreading wildfire.

Seasonal dry winds from the Great Basin Area into Southern California dry out vegetation, fan wildfires, knock down power lines (causing sparks), and spread burning embers.

Finally, climate change is leading to longer, hotter, and drier summers increasing the intensity of wildfires. Nine of the state’s 10 largest fires have occurred since 2010. The last one burned more than a million acres in 2020.

2023: The Lowest Wildfire Burn Total Since 1998

As it happens, 2023 was a record year in the country—the lowest area burned since 1998, thanks to an unusually wet Californian summer.

However, wildfire destruction was still potent, especially with the devastating Maui wildfire, which burned down the historic town of Lahaina, killing 100 people.

The post Wildfire Area Burned by U.S. State in 2023 appeared first on Visual Capitalist.

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