California may be the first state that comes to mind when you think wildfires, but Texas has had the greatest number of wildfires in the last three years, according to I.I.I. research.
The New York Times reports that after already enduring a record-setting statewide drought, Texas is now battling a series of wildfires that have destroyed more than 1,000 homes, mostly near Austin.
A summary of the Labor Day Texas wildfires by AIR Worldwide has more on this event by the numbers.
Over the Labor Day weekend Texas experienced about 85 new outbreaks of wildfires, AIR says.
The largest, the Bastrop County Complex fire, which is burning about 25 miles southeast of Austin has raged through 30,000 acres, destroyed nearly 600 homes, and forced the evacuation of at least 5,000 people. The Texas Forest Service has more on the current situation.
AIR estimates that the average replacement value (building only) of a single family home in Texas statewide is roughly $187,000.
To put the most recent fires in context, AIR notes that fire crews in Texas have fought nearly 19,000 wildfires since the beginning of the year. About 3.6 million acres Ã¢â‚¬“ an area the size of Connecticut Ã¢â‚¬“ have been consumed in the state, accounting for nearly half of all the acreage burned by wildfires in the entire United States this year.
The fires have been especially severe because of the 2011 southern United States drought that has persisted throughout the year. The percentage of exceptional drought in Texas is the highest since the U.S. Drought Monitor began tracking the data in 2000, AIR adds.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s worth noting that the latest U.S. Drought Monitor released last Thursday showed some 41 percent of the country in drought, and 15 percent of the country in exceptional drought. A year ago, those figures were 26 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.
I.I.I.Ã‚ reminds us thatÃ‚ wildfires are a national problem, affecting almost every state.
In 2010 catastrophic wildfires caused $210 million in insured losses and $314 million in total economic losses, according to Munich Re.
Check out the Lede blog at the New York Times forÃ‚ video footageÃ‚ of the fires and destruction in Texas.