New study shows wildfire seasons getting worse

, Written by Kassi Nelson, Posted: Tue, July 22 2014 at 6:14 PM, Updated: Wed, July 23 2014 at 4:45 PM

Medford, Ore. -- A new analysis shows wildfire seasons are getting longer and more devastating.

The data released by an independent group of scientists called Climate Central looked at the past 44 years of U.S. Forest Service records in Oregon and 11 other western states.

The look back shows things could get worse before they get better. 

Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Prevention Specialists Brian Ballou said if the trend continues it's going to become an accelerated problem. 

Ballou has seen the trend and said today's fires are far more common and do more damage than fires in the 1970s.

"If the fire was 5,000 acres in size that was a big fire," he said.

The study found that in Oregon 15 times more land burned this decade than in the 1970s.

"What we've got now it trying to battle exceedingly large fires that are very hard to stop," Ballou said. "We don't have a magic wand that can instantly stop these big fires."

According to the analysis an average of 76,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in Oregon burned every year for the past ten years. Researchers blame the increase on rising temperatures and shrinking snow pack.

"If we go into this same cycle of a dry winter going into next summer it's going to be worse," Ballou said.

While it's an uphill battle experts say you can do your part by removing dry brush and grasses from your neighborhood and following the regulations in place.

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About the Author

Kassi Nelson

NBC5 News reporter Kassi Nelson was born and raised in Nebraska. She graduated from the journalism school at University of Nebraska Lincoln where she studied broadcasting.

She also studied philosophy in the Czech Republic. Kassi has visited nine other countries including Sochi, Russia, where she reported on the preparations for the 2014 Olympic Games.

She loves skiing and live concerts!

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