Wildfires burned over 7.1 million acres of public and private lands during the summer of 2002, mostly in the western U.S. While battling these fires, 21 firefighters were killed.
Rocky Mountain Forest Fires
Two lightning-ignited fires roared through forests of pinon pine, Utah juniper and Gambel oak in Mesa Verde National Park, scorching 21,061 acres in the park and another 7,786 acres nearby.
Proposed management and policy changes to improve firefighter safety were accepted by USFS.
During a wildfire, mercury stored in the foliage and ground litter is released and carried into the atmosphere.
The NIFC reported that the number, severity and behavior of fires (as well as acreage burned and duration of the season) was much less severe in 2001 than in 2000, although conditions are comparable — lots of fuel and hot, dry weather.