Huge California fire grows as heat spikes again across state

19th August, 2021.      //   Climate Change  // 

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(AP) GREENVILLE, Calif. – After almost three weeks of smoldering in isolated mountains, California’s biggest wildfire erupted again, and authorities warned Tuesday that hot, dry weather will raise the risk of new flames throughout much of the state.

Strong winds fanned the Dixie Fire, which expanded to over 395 square miles (1,024 square kilometers) across Plumas and Butte counties Monday, forcing firefighters to rescue houses in the small northern California hamlet of Greenville near the Plumas National Forest.

“Engines, crews and heavy equipment shifted from other areas to increase structure protection and direct line construction as the fire moved toward Greenville,” Cal Fire, the state’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, announced Tuesday morning.

Evacuations were required for the 1,000-person hamlet as well as the east side of adjacent Lake Almanor, a renowned tourist destination. Since the fire broke out on July 14, over 3,000 residences have been endangered by the flames, which has destroyed 67 houses and other structures. It was just 35% contained.

Cal Fire reported that crews faced dry, hot, and windy weather, and that “and the forecast calls for the return of active fire behavior.”

Heat advisories and warnings were issued for the interior valleys, mountains, and deserts for much of the week in Southern California, where similar weather was predicted.

Heat waves and severe droughts linked to climate change have made fighting wildfires in the American West more difficult. Climate change, according to scientists, has made the region more warmer and drier in the last 30 years, and will continue to make weather more intense and wildfires more common and deadly in the future.

On Tuesday, the National Interagency Fire Center reported that over 20,000 firefighters and support personnel were battling 97 major, active wildfires across 13 states, totaling 2,919 square miles (7,560 square kilometers).

On Tuesday in Hawaii, dry weather and strong winds created severe fire conditions once again.

The 62-square-mile (160-square-kilometer) Mana Road Fire, which forced hundreds of residents to flee over the weekend and damaged at least two houses on the Big Island, has been brought under control.

The lightning-sparked McFarland Fire threatened rural houses near the Trinity River in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, some 150 miles (240 kilometers) west of California’s Dixie Fire. Tuesday, the approximately 25-square-mile (65-square-mile) fire was just 5% controlled.

Officials said Monday that lightning struck dry woods hundreds of times in a 24-hour span in southern Oregon, starting 50 new wildfires while the nation’s largest inferno blazed less than 100 miles (161 kilometers) away.

The fresh flames were fought by firefighters and aircraft before they could expand out of control. There were no imminent threats to anyone’s house.

The Bootleg Fire in Oregon, the country’s largest at 647 square miles (1,676 square kilometers), is only 84 percent contained and won’t be entirely under control until October 1.