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The scientist pointed to destructive fires that raged last month in Southern California and Arizona.
The top five years with the most acres burned have all happened in the last decade, according to federal records. From 2010 through 2013, about 6.4 million acres a year burned on average compared to 2.9 million acres a year in the 1980s.
"That fire was a prime example of what we could see," Bird said. "It was like a middle of the summer fire."
Dry conditions and high winds fueled two destructive fires in the Reno area in November 2011 Bottega Veneta Intrecciato Nappa Shoulder Bag
Over the past few months, at least three different studies and reports have warned that wildfires are getting bigger, that man made climate change is to blame, and that the trend is only expected to worsen as more fires start earlier in the year.
The Nevada Division of Forestry crew, conducting a fuels reduction project in a thick stand of pinyon juniper, felled trees that normally discharge a thick soup of sticky sap.
Read the first installment of our series on drought in Nevada here
It's one of the more worrying consequences of the drought now withering western Nevada and the Sierra. From the pinyon juniper stands in the Sweetwaters and Pine Nut Mountains south of Reno to the pine forests higher in the Sierra to the west, drought stressed forests are in particular danger from wildfire during the summer of 2014. The danger is said to be notably severe in the timbered high country.
"With the drought this year, we're certainly going to see increased frequency of this type of event," Dennison said. "Because of the drought the fuels are very susceptible to burning."
evidence points to the possibility of an increasingly fiery future for the West.
It was in the Humboldt Toiyabe, in steep and Red Prada Bag rugged mountain terrain west of Reno on the border of the Mount Rose Wilderness, where the danger was made plainly clear early on. On the night of May 7 in an event connected to human activity, a wildfire erupted and quickly chewed through more than one square mile of kiln dry wooded terrain.
And ready to burn.
As dry as it is right now, another fire started in the wrong place on a windy day could easily rival these past fires in destructive potential, experts said.
The fire was held to a relatively small size and burned no structures but its behavior was far from what would normally be expected in the middle of spring, with flames rapidly spreading through brush and timber.
These pinyon and juniper trees were remarkably dry, showing the compounding impacts of three dry winters that have left them stressed and sickly, prone to insect attack.
And more could be coming under the influence of a warming climate. While experts are reluctant to link individual drought or big fire years to climate change, increasing Bottega Veneta Men's Bags 2013
Crews thin trees in a Nevada Department of Forestry timber stand management project in Galena Forest Estates on June 12, 2014. Many trees were felled, others pruned to rid the trees of their diseased limbs.(Photo: Tim Dunn/RGJ)Eric Roussel and colleagues were working down in the Sweetwater Range a few months back when they noticed something unusual.
"The conditions are right. We could have a rough go of it this summer," said Russell Bird, fire management officer for Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest.
"We are going to see increased fire activity all across the West as the climate warms," Dennison said.
"We've had drought years before. We've had big fire years. But this one really stands out" in its potential, Bird said.
Nevada forests ready to burn
and January 2012, with the winter season blazes destroying 54 homes combined.
The starts do come and during drought years like this one, some of the most destructive fires result. It occurred in 2007 a very dry year when an illegal campfire left smoldering in the woods outside South Lake Tahoe erupted into flame on a windy June afternoon. The Angora Fire destroyed 254 homes in the most destructive wildfire in the area's history.
drought has really affected the moisture in the trees," agreed Scott Rasmussen, fire program manager for NDF, adding that the situation becomes particularly dangerous after drought stressed trees succumb to attack by bark beetles a situation foresters say is already occurring in some areas across the region.
Since 1984, the area burned by the West's largest wildfires of more than 1,000 acres have increased by about 87,700 acres a year, according to an April study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
"Typically when you cut them down they're a pretty sappy mess," Roussel said. "We noticed that consistently, there just wasn't any sap."
"Then they become very dry tinder, easily burned," Rasmussen said. "You have to have a start but once you do, the potential is certainly there for larger fires."
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