In Florida, the wildfire season is getting hotter.
But, like a lot of other states, it is getting tougher.
The state’s fire seasons have gotten hotter, the number of fires has increased and the number and severity of blazes has increased.
So, for the most part, the fires are becoming more destructive and more frequent, said David Pomerantz, a professor of geography at Florida Atlantic University.
“This is a state that’s seeing more fire, and it’s a state where the people are starting to feel it more than the firefighters,” Pomeranz said.
In fact, the total number of wildfires in Florida is on track to exceed the state’s pre-flood population of 6 million.
And this season is expected to be even worse.
There were 7,965 wildfires in 2016, up from 6,938 the year before, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture.
“As wildfires become more intense, the damage they cause and the damage to the environment they create is a whole different issue than the fires that are burning now,” Pomersantz said.
There are about 15 wildfires burning across the state, with some states seeing more than half that number, according the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The most active wildfires are in the western part of the state and are the ones that have seen more than 50 percent of the total fires.
“We’re in the middle of the worst season in Florida history,” said Michael A. Hensley, a fire management expert with the University of South Florida.
“It’s a disaster for us, our communities, our natural resources, our wildlife, our people and the people who live there.”
The last time there were so many wildfires in the state was in 2009.
The last season when there were more than 25 fires in one day was 2011, said Hensleys senior program manager on wildfires.
“The season just got hotter and hotter,” he said.
The drought that has been plaguing Florida has made wildfires more common, said Jeff Stahl, an assistant professor of geosciences at Florida International University.
Stahl said Florida is a “very dry” state, but that it’s not as dry as many people think.
“I think we’re still in the very early stages of drought, but the amount of fire that we’ve seen this year is the highest it’s been in a long time,” Stahl added.
Fire season, the first two months of the year, is usually the most difficult time of the season for firefighters because the fire season usually begins at the end of October and ends in April.
“Every year it gets more difficult, and every year it’s just the heat and humidity and fire that’s making it even more difficult,” Stals said.
“So this is the first time we’ve had this kind of drought this year,” he added.
“When you’re a firefighting team, there are two major challenges,” said Hennesley.
“One, the fire is still burning in a place that is not as well-developed as it should be.
And second, we have a very large fire that has burned out of control and is causing a lot more destruction than we anticipated.”
There are a lot fewer firefighters in the country to fight wildfires, so there is less equipment available and that means more time to work with crews, Stahl noted.
The National Interagency Fire Center in Tampa reports there were 3,532 wildfires reported in the United States in 2016.
In Florida alone, there were 9,058.
A total of 2,069 wildfires were reported in 2016 in the South Florida area, according NFCC records.
The area in Florida where the most fires were reported was also the most populated with about 1,900 firefighters.
A Florida Department OF Forestry spokeswoman told CNN that about 6,000 acres of land burned and 9,000 people were rescued from fires this year.
“These fires have been devastating for our state and the surrounding communities and have resulted in the loss of hundreds of homes, millions of dollars in property and untold health and safety impacts,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.
There have been at least 18,000 wildfires across the country so far this year, according National Fire Protection Association records.
In 2016, more than 2,000 fires were burning across California.
More than 5,000 homes were destroyed and 2,300 people were injured.
Florida has been hit by wildfires before, including in 2006 and 2012.
“If we don’t make a commitment to the firefighting effort that we made in 2006, we will be back to that same disaster,” Hennesleys said.