Why the Midwest Doesn’t have Wildfires


Sarah DeLille, Writer

Recently I have realized that almost every other place in the United States has wildfires except the Midwest. The idea of this kind of angers me, we should be included in the wildfires too. Why are we being left out? 

Some people have told me that the Midwest is just too wet for wildfires to start and continue to spread, which is a good point. So, I looked into it, in Oregon, a state that is currently on fire, gets on average 42 inches of rain a year, but Illinois can get anywhere from 48in. to 35in.a year. 42 inches is not even in the middle of the average amount of rain Illinois gets. So, since the wetness of the Midwest is not the reason we don’t have wildfires, what is the reason?

The fact is the Midwest is supposed to have wildfires, but we just don’t. I looked into southern California, because that is where most of the United States wildfires are, and why their fires get so large. One thing California is known for is their heat reaching up to 129.9 degrees Fahrenheit just this year. In Illinois the highest temperature ever recorded was only 117 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperatures in California cause most of the land and plants to be dry. It also does not help that southern California is almost always in a drought. I think the Midwest gets rain and just does not have enough heat to fully evaporate it so we could get the same dry conditions that make wildfires so prone in other places like California. Still, wildfires are a natural thing that is not always started by humans so they should be happening in the Midwest. 

I decided to look into when the last big wildfire was that happened in the Midwest. The last fire is known as The Great Midwest Wildfire of 1871. You might have thought I messed that up, but no the last wildfire in the Midwest was almost 150 years ago. The fire lasted from Sunday, October 8 until Tuesday October 10. The fire did not last long but it claimed millions of acres and 300 lives. It was believed that the fire started when a cow knocked over a lantern. That is not that surprising because the fires that are happening on the west coast right now were started by a gender reveal. 

The truth is wildfires should be happening in the Midwest, but rarely do. This could be due to many things like luck or Smokey the bear, I just don’t know. I am only a high school student, not a scientist. Hopefully we can stay fire free for another 150 years, because the last thing 2020 needs is more wildfires.