With a stunning 7 million acres burned so far, the U.S. wildfire situation is looking dire

Wildfires are exploding across the western United States, overstretching resources and, in some states, resulting in tragic consequences.

Some 30,000 firefighters and additional support staff are now fighting fires across the United States — the biggest number mobilized in 15 years, according to the U.S. Forest Service. And it’s still not enough.

Two hundred members of the military are being called up to help further — they will be trained and deployed within just a few days — as are Canadian firefighting forces. There’s even some talk of potentially needing to draw on resources from Australia and New Zealand, which has been done before in a pinch.

And no wonder: Five states are now battling more than 10 large wildfires — California is contending with 16, Idaho 21, Montana 14, Oregon 11 and Washington 17. Most terrifying, perhaps, is the Soda Fire, which has scorched 283,686 acres in Idaho, burning up ranches, killing wild horses, even generating an alarming fire whirl recently.

The total acres burned so far in 2015 is now a staggering 7.1 million, with currently burning fires accounting for over 1 million of that total. “This is the earliest the number of national acres burned has been more than 7 million in the past 20 years,” notes the National Interagency Coordination Center.

The gigantic convulsion of fire activity makes a report released two weeks ago, by the U.S. Forest Service, seem prescient. The agency sounded the alarm about rising wildfire costs, saying that fighting fires will consume more than 50 percent of its budget this year and could be up to two thirds of it by the year 2025, based on current trends. According to the Forest Service, the U.S. spends $100 million per week when it is at wildfire preparedness level 5, as it is now.

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