PARADISE, CALIFORNIA: California’s largest wildfire so far this year ignited Friday, but it was because the flames were gnawing on islands of unburned vegetation within a perimeter that firefighters have built, authorities said.
The Dixie fire covered 376 square miles (974 square kilometers) in the mountains of Northern California, where 42 homes and other buildings have been destroyed and more than 10,000 remain threatened.
The vegetation burning inside the fire Thursday produced a huge “ fire cloud, ” huge plumes of smoke and ash that can pose a hazard to firefighters. Residents were assured that it was expected and that it would happen again, but that did not mean that crews were losing control that they had the fire.
“ There is nothing close to our line at the moment. It’s all indoor fuels that are burning, ” Mike Wink, an incident commander, said in an online briefing.
The fire northeast of the city of Paradise, which was largely destroyed in 2018 by the nation’s deadliest wildfire in a century, has been burning since July 13 and is more than 20% contained.
In remote southern Oregon, the nation’s largest wildfire was more than half contained after burning more than 646 square miles (1,673 square kilometers) in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. The active behavior of the fire also had mainly interior foci of burning vegetation, according to a situation report.
A historic drought and recent heat waves linked to climate change have made wildfires more difficult to fight in the western United States. Scientists say climate change has made the region much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
The U.S. Drought Monitor reported this week that while a heavy monsoon has brought drought-alleviating rains in the Southwest, critically dry conditions persist in Northern California and the Northwest, where there has been an expansion of the “ exceptional drought ”, the worst category. .
Nearly 22,000 firefighters and support personnel were fighting 83 large and active wildfires covering 2,720 square miles (7,044 square kilometers) in 13 states on Friday, the National Interagency Fire Center said.
“ Fire weather and fuel conditions across the country continue to challenge wildland fire managers, ” an agency statement said.