2018-08-09 23:24:28 UTC
It may take until September to contain the largest fire in California history,
which is bigger than the size of the city of Los Angeles.
"It is climate change that is causing this," said Michael Mohler, spokesman
for Cal Fire. "There is no other way to explain explosive fuel conditions that
come with increased winds and higher temperatures."
California has more than 100 million dead trees due to drought and infestation
from bark beetles. Dead trees pose a major hazard as they allow wildfires to
spread rapidly in hot, dry conditions. Cal Fire's vegetation management crews
are out year-round to thin and remove such trees while also doing prescribed
About $70 million of ongoing resources have been added to the state budget in
the past four years to provide additional fire suppression resources,
according to Ali Bay, spokesman for the governor. Approximately $800 million
has been added for projects focused on the prevention of forest fires,
including more fire prevention inspections and projects, removal of dead trees
and other fuel reduction activities and projects.
Experts also cite hotter temperatures causing lengthier fire seasons that burn
up dry, dead vegetation as factors for more wildfires.
This past July was California's hottest month on record, topping the previous
record that had been set in July 1931, according to the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration. The three biggest fires currently burning in
California all started in July.
Climate change has increased the length of fire season, said Malcolm North,
research scientist for the US Forest Service Pacific SW Research Station.
"Now they are pretty much combustible year-round," said North, who is also an
affiliate professor at UC Davis.
"With climate change, we pretty much know there will be an increase in extreme