Wildfire activity in the U.S., by county, 1994-2013. The color scale represents the frequency of wildfires greater or equal to 300 acres. Orange 1-20, red 21-100, brown 101-1,308. Yellow indicates counties where the largest wildfires were less than 300 acres. White indicates counties with no recorded wildfires. (Source: FEMA/Jana Baldwin (https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/images/115288)


Wildfires have steadily become a more pronounced threat across the United States. Wildfires occur when a combination of weather conditions and fuel loads come together to create favorable conditions for both ignition and spread. Wildfires are most prevalent in the Plain States during the late winter and early spring. In the West, wildfire season generally peaks during the mid to late summer. However, wildfires can occur year-round.

Wildfires pose a particular risk for rural communities because of the vast amount of resources needed to combat them. A large-scale response to a wildfire may last several days to weeks and be made up of a combination of local, state, and federal resources. It is not uncommon to see dozens of local jurisdictions responding collectively to a fire.

Wildfires can severely impact rural communities in a number of ways. Fires can significantly damage infrastructure - homes, barns, sheds, fencing - as well as farm equipment, vehicles, and structural damage to essential services such as electricity and water. If evacuations are necessary, communities will need a plan for short-term or long-term sheltering as well as for dealing with supplies both requested and donated. Livestock or pets that are in the path of a fire may be killed or injured from the fire itself or from smoke inhalation. Even if livestock are not physically injured, the loss of feed, either from burnt pasture land or consumed hay, may make continued livestock production difficult.

Understanding and identifying your risk to wildfires is the first step in potentially limiting their impact on your home, farm, or livestock. The following factsheets provide suggestions to reduce your risk during wildfires, take action during wildfire situations, and recover after a wildfire has impacted your family.

Wildfire Web Resources

Website with resources for preparing before a wildfire, actions during a wildfire, and how to recover after a wildfire.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Webpage with information on what to do before, during, and after a wildfire.

Wildfire Factsheets

How to Prepare for a Wildfire
Resource guide with information to prepare for wildfire situations.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)