Spraying the Thomas Fire in 2017. In the eight-year period between 2012 and 2019 — the latest year for which records are available — the Forest Service used more than 102 million gallons of wildfire retardants. (Credit: Airman Magazine/flickr)
We’re Dumping Loads of Retardant Chemicals to Fight Wildfires. What Does it Mean for Wildlife?
Sep 27, 2021 at 2:10pm
As the Caldor Fire roared toward drought-stricken Lake Tahoe in the last days of August, firefighters faced a sobering scenario: Strong winds increased from the southwest, pushing the fire toward populated areas and prompting tens of thousands to flee.
For days aerial crews dropped fire retardant from planes, aiming to slow the fire's progress and lessen the intense heat so that ground crews could approach. But the fire just kept coming — until winds shifted and smoke-clogged Tahoe was spared.
Fire agencies consider aerial wildfire retardants — a mix of water and chemicals — an important tool for protecting communities. The red mist spreading behind an airtanker capable of carrying up to 8,000 gallons of retardant provides reassurance to people worried about their safety, homes, and businesses.
Between 1985 and 2017, the western U.S. has seen an eight-fold increase in annual area burned by severe fires. And aerial wildfire retardant use is way up as well. Between 2000 and 2010, more than 90 million gallons of retardant were applied on Forest Service lands. But in just the eight-year period between 2012 and 2019 — the latest year for which records are available — the Forest Service used more than 102 million gallons.
Continue reading the article from Environmental Health News here.