As part of air defense system training, the F-16 sorties will release 15,360 flares a year. We are very concerned about the risk of wildfire from this practice. Three catastrophic wildfires have occurred over the past five years in the Gila National Forest and Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness Areas, burning nearly 500,000 acres, including the Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire that still stands as the largest fire in New Mexico. The Gila Region cannot afford to risk another fire like those which have been experienced in recent years.
There have been documented instances of wildfire caused by flare use, including a wildfire in New Jersey that burned more than 12,000 acres. In Southeastern Oregon, fire officials believe that flares caused a series of six wildfires on federal public lands on July 11, 2017.
New York Times, “Thousands Flee New Jersey Wildfire Ignited by Flare from F-16”, May 16, 2007, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/16/nyregion/16fire.html
Oregon Public Broadcasting, July 11, 2017, “Feds Examine Military Flares In Mysterious Oregon Wildfires” http://www.opb.org/news/article/feds-examine-military-flares-in-mysterious-oregon-wildfires/