California Fires Have Burned a Record 1 Million Acres This Year
(Bloomberg) -- Never before has so much landscape burned in California at this point in the year with more than 1 million acres (405,000 hectares) torched and firefighters bracing for more conflagrations this week.
Crews are battling 10 large blazes including the Dixie Fire, the second-biggest in state history, that has already scorched about 570,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,000 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection known as Cal Fire.
The Dixie Fire, which may have been started by equipment owned by utility giant PG&E Corp., was 31% contained as of Monday morning.
Meanwhile, PG&E began notifying about 39,000 customers in Northern California that it may need to cut power as soon as Tuesday evening to prevent electrical lines from sparking new fires during dry and windy weather. The National Weather Service has issued a fire-weather watch for portions of Northern California for Tuesday evening through late Wednesday with expected wind gusts as high as 35 miles per hour (56 kilometers per hour).
A severe drought has parched much of the most-populous U.S. state, leaving hillside grasses and forests vulnerable to ignition. This year’s pace of destruction is a historical record and is ahead of last year, which ended up being the worst annual fire season ever with 4.3 million acres burned, according to Cal Fire. The current devastation comes ahead of what’s typically the most-active fire period, when autumn offshore winds pick up and lead to dangerous fire conditions.
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