California Wildfire Crews Make Headway, but Tough Conditions Expected to Persist – The Wall Street Journal

Firefighters have gained some ground on multiple wildfires in California over the past few weeks as the hot, windy conditions that had helped fuel flames abated. Crews could remain busy, however, as the western part of the U.S. moves into the latter part of fire season. 

There are 10 large fires burning in California. The major fires in the Golden State are part of 64 large fires across the U.S. that have burned more than 3.1 million acres—on par with other fire seasons in recent years. 

Drought across large parts of the West has dried out vegetation and larger sources of fuel such as branches and downed trees, making them more easily combustible.

The severity of this fire season has differed across regions of the country, and California is in the middle of an above-average fire season, with some of the most active months still ahead. 

The Dixie Fire, the second largest blaze in the state’s recorded history, is now 94% contained according to fire officials. The fire, which started more than two months ago, has burned 963,309 acres and destroyed 1,329 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. Two weeks ago, it was 75% contained. 

A water truck last week sprayed down areas of downtown Greenville, Calif., burned by the Dixie Fire.

Photo: josh edelson/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The Caldor Fire, which narrowly missed the town of South Lake Tahoe in late August, is 76% contained, but nearly 1,500 people are still working on the blaze. The fire has burned 221,774 acres. 

Cooler-than-average temperatures and spotty rain showers helped firefighters with containment this week, said Christine McMorrow, a spokeswoman for Cal Fire. 

“The reality is this amount of rain is not enough—it’s not a fire season-ending amount of precipitation,” Ms. McMorrow said. “Those fuels will dry out quickly in a day or two.”

A year after one of the worst wildfire seasons in California’s history, the state is taking more preventive measures to reduce wildfire risks. But experts worry it still doesn’t have the firefighting and land management resources to adequately fight worsening blazes. Photo: Noah Berger/AP

Historically, the state has experienced devastating fires during September and October, so authorities remain on high alert, she said. 

The KNP Complex Fire in Sequoia National Park ignited from lightning strikes. The fire now exceeds 48,000 acres, and more than 1,800 firefighters are trying to contain it. Firefighters had covered some of the giant trees of Sequoia National Park in protective foil as the growing wildfires threatened one of the state’s most well-known groves. The General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest tree by volume, resides in one of the groves. 

South of the KNP Complex Fire is the Windy Fire, where wind gusts tested containment lines on the 87,901-acre blaze, which is only 25% contained.

The Windy Fire was spreading through forest areas south of the California Hot Springs area, on Monday.

Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Last week, authorities in Northern California arrested a woman they allege started the Fawn Fire, which burned 185 structures and damaged another 26. The woman, Alexandra Souverneva, is charged with felony arson. Due to a declared state of emergency, Ms. Souverneva faces nine years if she is convicted, Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett said last Friday at a press conference announcing the charges.

The county public defender, Shana Vegvary, said her client entered a not guilty plea to the charges. “No evidence has been presented to the contrary,” Ms. Vegvary said. “We request that the public not prejudge this case.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday proclaimed a state of emergency for Shasta County to support the response to the Fawn Fire.

Fire Acres destroyed % contained Date Started # of Firefighters responding
Dixie  963,309 94% July 2021 1,727
Monument 224,103 72% July 2021 749
Caldor  221,774 76% August 2021 1,480
River Complex 198,555  67% July 2021 902
Antelope Fire 145,632 95% August 2021 318

Source: Inciweb, Cal Fire (as of Sept. 28)

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Original News Source Link

Leave a Comment