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Max Facts: Same number of fires, WAY more acres burned

Posted at 7:20 PM, Aug 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-10 21:20:20-04

 SALT LAKE CITY — So far in Utah, more than 180 thousand acres have burned as the result of all the wildfires listed on the Great Basin Coordination Center's website for 2018.

That already makes the fire season more destructive than Utah's average over 10 and 20 years without taking into account the homes, structures and vehicles that have burned.

Comparing 2018 to the previous five years, only 2017 saw comparable destruction.

249 thousand acres burned in Utah in 2017, which is an area three and a half times the size of Salt Lake City.

The least destructive recent fire season happened in 2015, with just over 10 thousand acres burned.

The difference?

It's not the number of fires. In 2017, 1,166 wildfires were reported. That number was 930 in 2015, only a 25 percent difference.

So what caused 24 times the number of acres to burn?

2015 was nearly as hot as 2017. It was the 3rd hottest year on record, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. 2017 was the hottest.

The big difference was precipitation.

In 2015 snow and rain totals were way above average. 2017 was just average.

And so far, 2018 is hotter and much drier than 2017.