Wildfires are still burning across the Mountain West, but far fewer than in the last few years.
Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 22 of this year, about 3.8 million acres around the U.S. burned, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Last year at this time, it was more than 6 million.
The fire center reported that even the sheer number of wildfires have dropped by 10,000.
However, fire center spokesperson Jessica Gardetto said that doesn’t mean firefighters are taking a break.
“Below-normal fire activity allows us to tackle more proactive, preventative projects and then to work on training and also have more time to assess how we can improve safety and fire suppression operations,” she said.
Gardetto added that residents should also take this time to clear their private properties to protect their homes from future fires.
“One thing that really helps firefighters is when homeowners clean up around their homes,” she said. “And when you have a below-normal fire season, homeowners may forget that they do live in an area where wildfire can approach their home and threaten their homes.”
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.
Find reporter Madelyn Beck on Twitter @MadelynBeck8