Wildfire ravages the Spring Mountains of Nevada

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Summer of fire

A wildfire glows in the night of July 6 along a ridgeline in Nevada's Spring Mountains. After lightning sparked the blaze 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas in Carpenter Canyon, hundreds of firefighters have worked day and night to control the flames, which have burned more than 14,000 acres.

The Carpenter Canyon fire is just one of many that have ravaged the United States this summer. On June 30, tragedy befell the small city of Prescott, Ariz. when 19 of their firefighters died battling a fast-moving wildfire in nearby Yarnell. Meanwhile, in Colorado Springs, the Black Forest fire destroyed 509 homes and charred 14,000 acres — more than any other fire in Colorado history.

The average annual acreage of land scorched from fires jumped by 6.5 million between 1995 and 2012, leading many people to wonder why wildfires seem to be worsening.

Even with prescribed burns helping to regulate oversupressed fire cycles, forestry managers may be battling something much larger and out of their league — climate change. A 2011 study predicts that hotter, drier weather caused by climate change may be responsible for the increase in widespread wildfires.

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Memorial for firefighters killed in Arizona wildfire

Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Nineteen crosses and American flags adorn the fence outside of Fire Station 7 on July 3 in Prescott to memorialize the station's firefighters who were killed in the Yarnell fire.

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Landscape charred by wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona

Photo: Laura Segall/Getty Images

A charred, desolate landscape remains in Yarnell after a fast-moving wildfire swept through the area on July 7.

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Water drop prepares to be released over wildfire in Colorado Springs

Photo: Sgt. Jonathan C. Thibault via Getty Images

The United States Army prepares to release a water drop in hopes of dousing unruly flames racing through Colorado's Black Forest on June 12.

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Plumes of smoke from wildfire in Spring Mountains

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Plumes of smoke billow from the Nevada's Spring Mountains, which are currently under siege by the Carpenter Canyon fire.

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.
How the West was burned: Deadly wildfires sweep through U.S.
Massive wildfires in Arizona, Colorado and Nevada burn thousands of acres and leave nothing behind but scorched earth and broken hearts.