The 2014 fire season was predicted to be a doozy, and so far it hasn’t failed to disappoint. Prolonged drought conditions throughout the West, felt particularly hard across the Golden State, have resulted in a string of large, destructive and extremely costly blazes, charring huge swaths of forest in Northern California and the Northwest and leaving local and federal fire prevention agencies dangerously strapped for staffing, funding and resources. As of September 4, over 38,000 fires had been reported since the beginning of 2014, burning more than 2.7 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Why has fire season gotten so much longer, more dangerous and increasingly expensive? Comic journalist Andy Warner explains the heated history.

(Click images below to view as a slideshow)

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SelfPortraitAndy Warner’s comic journalism has been published by Symbolia, Slate,, American Public Media, Campus Progress and more. You can see more of his work at: and

  • Diana Rivera Rodriguez

    Wouldn’t it be safer all around to wet the forests that are getting dry to PREVENT fires? The same fire fighters and the same equipment could be used to do this. Why wait till it’s burning to throw water at the forest? (In Spain donkeys are used to clear the underbrush.) Could someone please explain this to me. Thank you.

    • Todd Miller

      Maybe if you read the comic again… you’ll find your explanation. Also where do you think we could find enough water to douse the millions of acres of forest? What you propose is completely infeasible even if we weren’t in extreme drought conditions.

    • Mark F

      Math Time!

      1″ of rain on one acre = 17.38 million gallons!

      Tanker truck can carry up to 11,600 gallons.

      The above comic shows basically all of CA needs water.
      CA has 101 million acres.

      According to the above numbers we would need 1,498 full size tanker trucks to provide 1″ of water for ONE ACRE OF LAND. Now multiply that number by the number of acres in CA and you can see the issue quite plainly.

      We would nee 151, 298,000,000 trucks to water CA with just ONE INCH OF WATER. Yes, that is 151 BILLION trucks.

      Don’t even get me started on the incredible logistics of getting that water to each acre, or where that water will come from, or how we will get that number of trucks, or who will drive them, or who will pay for the gas to run the trucks, or…, or…., or….etc, lol. 😉

      EDIT: Even if we only had to water 1% of CA it would still take 1.51 billion trucks to water!!!

      • Diana Rivera Rodriguez

        Thank you for your explanation. Ok; you need a lot of water to moist the forests and there is a draught. But where do they get the water to fight the fire? I’m asking because I don’t know. I also wonder if it takes more, the same or less water to put out a forest fire. Prevention is usually better and usually cheaper. And animals and peoples life would not be endangered.

      • Diana Rivera Rodriguez

        Dear Mark F
        I would love for you to answer my last post. Really.

  • Lori

    Thank you, Mr. Warner, for using your art to reach more people about this serious & tragic threat.

    I’m grateful he’s taken the initiative to educate the public about why forests burn and that the fires we’re experiencing have been indirectly been caused by us. Now if the public would just take to heart the warnings that should be obvious to them from witnessing the past several fire seasons and the losses we’ve endured. If we are going to live in or near our forestlands, we must take the threat of wildfire seriously, and clear the areas of vegetation around them as advised by local fire prevention. If ordinances don’t exist where we’ve chosen to live and work and there is a possibility of wildfires, they must be put in place and then enforced. We must learn just as those who live in other areas that suffer other types of natural disasters, that we cannot control nature but we can be prepared for what it throws at us.

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