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Wildfires 2011

San Diego County firefighter Jason Lambirth surveys a running wildfire on April 19, 2011 in Strawn, Texas. Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Spring has arrived across the U.S., and with it comes brightly blooming flowers, chirping birds and longer, hotter days. But spring also heralds the beginning of the wildfire season, when warm weather and dry conditions leave America's forests and grasslands at risk of going up in flames. The climate has a significant influence on America's wildfires. Wet conditions in the winter can promote plant growth that can fuel a fire, and an earlier spring and hotter summer may nurture a longer wildfire season.

Wildfires have always burned in the American West, and they are part of the natural cycle in healthy forests. But in recent decades, the number of wildfires has been increasing, and scientists say that this is related to the ongoing drought in the Southwest and long-term climate changes happening across the West. The stories, videos, and graphics here illustrate some wildfire impacts and investigate the science behind big blazes.

Article: Texas Wildfires Continue to Rage Amidst Historic Drought Conditions

Article: Fast Start to Fire Season as Wildfires Scorch Texas


Video: Wildfires Out West

Video: Montana - Trout and Drought

Article: Wildfire Predictions for the Next Century

Graphic: Wildfires in the West

Graphic: In Nevada, Fires Follow Rain

Graphic: In Montana, Fires Follow Drought

Graphic: Can Rain Cause More Fire?

Graphic: Acres Burned in Washington

Graphic: Northern Rockies Forest Wildfires

Video: Washington - Warming and Wildfires