Facts + Statistics: Wildfires

Key Facts

  • According to federal data cited by the National Park Service, humans cause about 85 percent of all wildfires yearly in the United States.
  • The Annual 2021 Wildfires Report from the National Centers for Environmental Information indicates that over 7 million acres of wildland were consumed by fire that year.
  • According to the National Interagency Fire Center, California leads the country with the most wildfires and number of acres burned.  California-specific charts below on the Top 10 largest, most destructive, and deadliest wildfires.   

Annual Number of Acres Burned in Wildland Fires, 1980-2021

 

*2004 fires and acres do not include state lands for North Carolina.

Source: National Interagency Fire Center.

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States At High To Extreme Wildfire Risk, 2021 (1)

 

Rank State Estimated number of
properties at risk
Rank State Percent of
properties at risk
1 California 2,040,600 1 Montana 29%
2 Texas 717,800 2 Idaho 26
3 Colorado 373,900 3 Colorado 17
4 Arizona 242,200 4 California 15
5 Idaho 175,000 5 New Mexico 15
6 Washington 155,500 6 Utah 14
7 Oklahoma 153,400 7 Wyoming 14
8 Oregon 147,500 8 Arizona 9
9 Montana 137,800 9 Oklahoma 9
10 Utah 136,000 10 Oregon 9
11 New Mexico 131,600 11 Texas 7
12 Nevada 67,100 12 Nevada 6
13 Wyoming 36,800 13 Washington 5

(1) As of October 2021.

Source: Verisk Wildfire Risk Analytics used data from FireLine®, Verisk's wildfire risk management tool.

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Wildfires By State, 2021

 

State Number of fires Number of acres burned 
Alabama 1,040 22,055
Alaska 384 253,357
Arizona 1,773 524,428
Arkansas 378 17,003
California 9,280 2,233,666
Colorado 1,017 48,195
Connecticut 60 127
Delaware 0 0
District of Columbia 0 0
Florida 2,262 105,475
Georgia 2,139 11,108
Hawaii 1 40,000
Idaho 1,332 439,600
Illinois 29 219
Indiana 34 836
Iowa 187 7,950
Kansas 55 163,982
Kentucky 723 22,859
Louisiana 507 10,303
Maine 636 377
Maryland 112 1,162
Massachusetts 588 1,439
Michigan 435 9,289
Minnesota 2,065 69,405
Mississippi 922 21,037
Missouri 1,531 40,262
Montana 2,573 747,678
Nebraska 785 27,294
Nevada 565 123,427
New Hampshire 280 96
New Jersey 906 6,652
New Mexico 672 123,792
New York 137 550
North Carolina 5,151 25,838
North Dakota 946 49,347
Ohio 524 1,415
Oklahoma 1,727 113,235
Oregon 2,202 828,777
Pennsylvania 1,350 2,892
Puerto Rico 0 0
Rhode Island 99 178
South Carolina 630 7,337
South Dakota 868 43,620
Tennessee 550 4,937
Texas 5,576 168,258
Utah 1,085 60,863
Vermont 90 157
Virginia 567 6,696
Washington 1,863 674,222
West Virginia 752 7,504
Wisconsin 1,040 2,159
Wyoming 540 53,496
United States (1) 58,968 7,124,554

(1) Includes Puerto Rico. Totals for the United States do not match totals shown elsewhere by the National Interagency Fire Center due to the use of different exhibits.

Source: National Interagency Fire Center.

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Top 10 States For Wildfires Ranked By Number Of Fires And By Number Of Acres Burned, 2021

 

Rank State Number of fires Rank State Number of acres burned
1 California 9,260 1 California 2,233,666
2 Texas 5,576 2 Oregon 828,777
3 North Carolina 5,151 3 Montana 747,678
4 Montana 2,573 4 Washisngton 674,222
5 Florida 2,262 5 Arizona 524,428
6 Oregon 2,202 6 Idaho 439,600
7 Georgia 2,139 7 Alaska 253,357
8 Minnesota 2,065 8 Texas 168,258
9 Washington 1,863 9 Kansas 163,982
10 Arizona 1,773 10 New Mexico 123,792

Source: National Interagency Fire Center.

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Top 10 Costliest Wildland Fires In The United States (1)

($ millions)

      Estimated insured loss
Rank Year Name Dollars when occurred In 2021 dollars (2)
1 2018 Camp Fire $10,000 $10,750
2 2017 Tubbs Fire 8,700 9,560
3 2018 Woolsey Fire 4,200 4,520
4 1991 Oakland Fire (Tunnel) 1,700 3,350
5 2017 Atlas Fire 3,000 3,300
6 2020 Glass Fire 2,950 3,070
7 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire 2,500 2,600
8 2017 Thomas Fire 2,250 2,470
9 2020 LNU Lightning Complex Fire 2,250 2,340
10 2007 Witch Fire 1,600 2,080

(1) Includes losses sustained by private insurers and government-sponsored programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program. Includes events that occurred through 2021. All fires on this list occurred in California. Includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Ranked on losses in 2021 dollars. Subject to change as loss estimates are further developed. As of Feburary 3, 2022.
(2) Adjusted for inflation by Aon using the U.S. Consumer Price Index.

Source: Aon.

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Top 10 Largest California Wildfires (1)

 

Rank Fire name (cause) Date County Acres Structures Deaths
1 August Complex (Lightning) August 2020 Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity,
Tehama, Glenn, Lake and Colusa
1,032,648 935 1
2 Dixie (Powerlines) July 2021 Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Shasta
and Tehama
963,309 1,311 1
3 Mendocino Complex (Human related) July 2018 Colusa, Lake, Mendocino
and Glenn
459,123 280 1
4 SCU Lightning Complex (Lightning) August 2020 Stanislaus, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa and San Joaquin 396,625 225 0
5 Creek (Undetermined) September 2020 Fresno and Madera 379,895 858 0
6 LNU Lightning Complex (Lightning/arson) August 2020 Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo, Lake and Colusa 363,220 1,491 6
7 North Complex (Lightning) August 2020 Butte, Plumas and Yuba 318,893 2,352 15
8 Thomas (Powerlines) December 2017 Ventura and Santa Barbara 281,893 1,060 2
9 Cedar (Human related) October 2003 San Diego 273,246 2,820 15
10 Rush (Lightning) August 2012 Lassen 271,911 (2) 0 0

(1) As of October 2022.
(2) In additon to the 271,911 acres in California, there were an addition 43,666 acres in Nevada.

Source: Calfire.

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Top 10 Most Destructive California Wildfires (1)

 

Rank Fire name and cause Date County Acres Structures (2) Deaths
1 Camp Fire (Powerlines) November 2018 Butte 153,336 18,804 85
2 Tubbs (Electrical)) October 2017 Napa and Sonoma 36,807 5,636 22
3 Tunnel - Oakland Hills (Rekindle) October 1991 Alameda 1,600 2,900 25
4 Cedar (Human related) October 2003 San Diego 273,246 2,820 15
5 North Complex (Lightning) August 2020 Butte, Plumas and Yuba 318,935 2,352 15
6 Valley (Electrical) September 2015 Lake, Napa and Sonoma 76,067 1,958 4
7 Witch (Powerlines) October 2007 San Diego 197,990 1,650 2
8 Woolsey (Electrical) November 2018 Ventura  96,949 1,643 3
9 Carr (Human related) July 2018 Shasta County, Trinity County 229,651 1,614 8
10 Glass (Undetermined) September 2020 Napa and Sonoma 67,484 1,520 0

(1) As of October 2022.
(2) "Structures" include homes, outbuildings (barns, garages, sheds, etc) and commercial properties destroyed. This list does not include fire jurisdiction. These are the Top 20 regardless of whether they were state, federal, or local responsibility.

Source: Calfire.

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Top 10 Deadliest California Wildfires (1)

 

Rank Fire name and cause Date County Acres Structures Deaths
1 Camp Fire (Power lines) November 2018 Butte  153,336 18,804 85
2 Griffith Park (Unknown) October 1933 Los Angeles 47 0 29
3 Tunnel - Oakland Hills (Rekindle) October 1991 Alameda 1,600 2,900 25
4 Tubbs (Electrical) October 2017 Napa and Sonoma 36,807 5,636 22
5 North Complex (Lightning) August 2020 Butte, Plumas and Yuba 318,935 2,852 15
6 Cedar (Human related) October 2003 San Diego 273,246 2,820 15
7 Rattlesnake (Arson) July 1953 Glenn 1,340 0 15
8 Loop (Unknown) November 1966 Los Angeles 2,028 0 12
9 Hauser Creek (Human related) October 1943 San Diego 13,145 0 11
10 Inaja (Human related) November 1956 San Diego 43,904 0 11

(1) As of October 2022.

Source: Calfire.

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