With perfect weather conditions for wildfires, the National Weather Service has issued a fresh round of Red Flag Warnings for many areas around the country today. Red Flag Warnings are now in effect for all of New Jersey, parts of eastern Pennsylvania, southeastern Colorado, western Texas, south-central upstate New York, and portions of southern and eastern New Mexico.
The combination of low fuel moisture, low relative humidity, and gusty winds may contribute to the enhanced spread of fires in the Red Flag Warning zones. A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly due to a combination
of strong winds, low relative humidity, and dry fuels. Any fires that develop may quickly get out of control and become difficult to contain. Because of that threat, those in Red Flag Warning areas are encouraged to follow fire safety advice from local officials; this may mean no outdoor campfires, BBQs, or even smoking.
For more more information about wildfire danger, burn restrictions, and wildfire prevention and education, the National Weather Service encourages residents to visit their state forestry or environmental protection websites.
Leaders from across the United States mainland and Hawaii are gathering in Hawaii today for the First Annual Hawaii Wildfire Summit, The summit, crafted by the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO), is designed to bring together a diverse audience to become apprised of best practices and innovations in wildfire protection, discuss lessons learned, and to provide a space that invites collaboration and coordination toward next steps in Hawaii and the Pacific.
“Over the years, HWMO has come to understand that wildfire-related challenges are faced by a wide array of professionals and citizens, including more than just those focused on emergency response. While the summit program is informative and highly valuable for fire professionals, the offerings are also targeted toward other efforts and people that deal with wildfire, such as riparian and marine conservation, cultural resource protection, the visitor industry, planning professionals and community groups,” Elizabeth Pickett, HWMO’s Director, said.
As the population in the United States continues to expand into areas that have normal wildfires, the risk for death and injury increases. Last year, fires made headlines in northern California in October. The Northern California fires killed at least 44 people and hospitalized at least 185, making the week of October 8, 2017 the deadliest week of wildfires in California history. Collectively, this event constitutes the largest loss of life due to wildfires in the United States since the Cloquet Fire in 1918.
In 2017, wildfires were the second most costly and deadly natural disaster in the United States, beaten only by hurricanes. Wildfires created more damage than tornadoes, severe storms, and drought in 2017, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.