Giant Infernos Blazing for Months Are the New Norm in California
(Bloomberg) -- The Dixie Fire has been burning for an entire month in Northern California, and that’s no longer unusual for giant wildfires torching the Golden State.
Eight of the 10 biggest fires in California history have occurred in just the past four years, and several of those raged for months before they were fully contained, according information from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.
Climate change is fueling longer, hotter summers and shorter winter rainy seasons across the state, leaving its 33 million acres of forest more vulnerable to conflagrations. And it’s not just California. Large wildfires are currently burning in 14 states across the U.S. The worst wildfires in decades killed at least 65 people this week in Algeria. And blazes continue to rage in Greece and Turkey.
“The ability for these fires to grow right now is exponential,” said Daniel Bertucelli, a spokesman with Cal Fire’s incident management team for the Dixie Fire.
The August Complex fire, the biggest ever in California, blazed for nearly three months late last year and destroyed more than 1 million acres before it was fully corralled.
The Dixie Fire has been tricky to contain because it’s located in a rural area with rough terrain and bone-dry vegetation, Bertucelli said. Fire officials don’t have an estimate for when the blaze, which has charred more than 515,000 acres and ranks as the second biggest ever in California, will be fully controlled. The fire was 31% contained as of Thursday night.
“Once a fire gets as big as this fire is, it’s a big challenge,” Bertucelli said.
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