Blue Creek fire, close to Walla Walla, WA. Photo: Greg Lehman, AP. Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Reader CoRev asserts wildfire intensity has not been severe of late. I’ll just graph some data to bring reality to the interested.
Figure 1: Acres burned (blue) and log-linear trend (red). Source: NIFC and author’s calculations.
Notice the upward trend; it is estimated by regressing log acres on a time trend. The t-statistic on the time trend is highly significant. The DW statistic is 1.83, the R2=0.81. Robust least squares provides a similar time trend. The coefficient on the time trend is 0.036, indicating that the acres burned trends upward at 3.6% per year (in log terms).
We don’t have 2015 data yet (obviously), but we do have year-to-date (YTD) figures.
The values for 2015 on YTD burn are the highest in 20 years. 
One can use the YTD burn to project total burn. I use a log-log specification (R2 = 0.95, DW = 2.07) to produce a forecast for 2015.
While the 2015 mean forecast is slightly below the previous peak in 2006, a slight modification (no constant) would yield a mean forecast above the 2006 peak. And using the baseline specification, the 90% interval easily encompasses much higher values.
Finally, I can use the relationship between total Federal firefighting expenditures, projected acres burned and the CPI to infer 2015 expenditures. (CPI growth for 2015 is assumed to be the same as experienced in the first 7 months of 2015.)
My central forecast is for substantially higher Federal (and likely state) expenditures in 2015.
Update, 5:15PM Pacific: Reader Steven Kopits argues (1) the linear regressions R2 of 0.32 is “risible”, and (2) I should look to moving averages. Here is a ten year moving average, in bold red.
Figure 5: Acres burned (blue) and ten year trailing moving average (bold dark red). 2015 acres burned is estimated, from Figure 3. Source: NIFC and author’s calculations.
I let readers determine what they think the “trend” is. To ensure that I am not accused of picking a specific depiction to favor my case, here is a centered 11 year moving average.
Figure 6: Acres burned (blue) and eleven year centered moving average (bold dark red). 2015 acres burned is estimated, from Figure 3. Source: NIFC and author’s calculations.