California Wildfires Burn More than 195,000 Acres
CALIFORNIA - According to a comprehensive report from The Mercury News, California’s wildfires are the worst they’ve been in the last ten years. The most common reason given for this state of affairs is the drought that plagued the state from 2012-2017. Although the effects were alleviated somewhat by the heavy rainfall during the last two winters, fire experts report that the dead vegetation still remains, which heavily increased fire risks.
“We are going to be dealing with the impacts of that drought for many years,” said Scott McLean, Deputy Chief of CalFire.
The County Fire, which began June 30 and spread throughout Yolo and Napa counties, has burned 90,000 acres but is now 73 percent contained. A heat wave that we recently reported on in Southern California—which sent temperatures soaring up to 115 degrees in Los Angeles County—made conditions even more difficult for the Holiday Fire in Goleta, Santa Barbara County, but is now 90 percent contained. The combination of heat and high, erratic winds has hindered the progress of of fire crews battling the Klamathon Fire in Siskiyou County, which runs along Interstate 5 near the Oregon border. That fire has consumed 35,250 acres and has crossed over to Oregon. As of July 11, The Mercury reports, the fire is only 30 percent contained.
Currently, the highest fire dangers in the country are the aforementioned Siskiyou County fire, fires in Central California from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara, and Northern Nevada and Southern Idaho, according to Craig Clements, an Assistant Professor of Meteorology at San Jose State University.
As hotter temperatures dry out vegetation earlier in the year, the fire season lengthens, explained Scott Stephens, Professor of Fire Science at UC Berkeley. In addition, this year California saw late rains in May which boosted grass growth in some areas by 50 percent. Now that this vegetation is dry, the fire has more to feed on.
“We’re just having longer periods where fires can ignite and move,” he stated. “It looks pretty severe. I expect this will be a challenging year because of this early activity.”
The total number of acres burned in California so far this year —upwards of 196,000 acres—is more than twice the average of the previous five years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
“Six of the last seven years in California have been in drought,” stated Jessica Gardetto, a spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire Center. "These hot and dry temperatures are going to persist, and that is compounding the problem. Once these fires start, they are incredibly difficult to put out.”
Official reports have not yet surfaced regarding the effects of the fires on the produce industry, although the most active fires are burning in areas that produce apricots, avocados, and almonds. AndNowUKnow will continue to follow the latest developments.