Fire History of the Region

Human-caused wildland fires occur annually in Guam and the inhabited Northern Mariana Islands – Rota, Saipan, and Tinian.  Fire has been identified as a key threat to communities, forest resources and watershed integrity in the 2010-2015 Statewide Resource Assessment and Strategies for both regions.  Fire records on Guam from 1979-2000 show that an average of 730 fires per year burned 4,800 acres (1,942 ha), or c. 4% of the island’s total land area.  Annual fire number and area burned increased in years following El Niño events.

Wildfire Today

The cause of the majority of fires is attributed to intentional burning, typically related to hunting activities. In addition, fire-prone savanna vegetation accounts for 17-23% of the main islands in the Marianas chain. Fire occurrence is most frequent during the pronounced dry season from December to June.

Average monthly rainfall (1996-2005) for guam and saipan. Data are from the western regional climate center.
Average monthly rainfall (1996-2005) for Guam and Saipan. Data are from the Western Regional Climate Center.
Soil Erosion Control, Guam, Aug 2019 (credit: JB Friday)

Guam & CNMI Fires

The US Forest Service’s Pacific Island Research Center’s Julian Dendy has mapped the extent of wildfires from 2015 – 2022.

Recent Resources for the Western Pacific

Grazing to Reduce Blazing

April 20, 2016

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Pre-Fire Planning Guide for Hawaii and Pacific Islands

March 7, 2016

Local knowledge of resources like water, road access, and high priority landscape features (crops, endangered species) is critical to minimizing the impacts caused directly by the wildfire as well as…

El Niño and Fire Weather on Pacific Islands

November 16, 2015

Predictions for El Nino’s effects on climate and wildfire in the Pacific (2015). DOWNLOAD PDF