News ID: 273902
Published: 0825 GMT September 08, 2020

California sets record as wildfires torch more than two million acres this year

California sets record as wildfires torch more than two million acres this year

A firefighter douses flames as they push towards homes during the Creek Fire in the Cascadel Woods area of unincorporated Madera County, California, US, on September 7, 2020.

Intense heat, parched conditions and high winds fueled record-shattering wildfires and strained the electrical grid across much of California on Monday, forcing the Forest Service to close eight national forests.

California has been struggling with a record-breaking fire season this year – more than two million acres have been torched. The days ahead look equally grim, USA Today reported.

"Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behavior, new fire starts are likely, weather conditions are worsening, and we simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire,” said Randy Moore, regional forester for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region.

In Northern California on Monday night, Fresno County Fire Department reported that up to 50 people were trapped near Lake Edison and that 14 hikers were trapped near China Peak. A rescue effort was unsuccessful due to "heavy smoke conditions," Fresno County PIO stated in a social media post. Another effort was being planned to evacuate the trapped people.

Fresno County Lt. Brandon Purcell stressed during a press conference that the trapped people "are safe" and "just can't get out because of roadblocks."

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff said that in the past 33 years “We have not seen a single year go over two million acres until this year," AFP reported.

"This is definitely record-breaking and we have not even come close to the end of fire season yet."

At least seven people have died as a result of this year's fires and some 3,800 structures have been damaged or destroyed, according to Cal Fire figures.

The last time the number of acres burned got close to two million was in 2018, the same year as the devastating Camp Fire, when a little more than 1.9 million acres (769,000 hectares) went up in flames.

More than 14,100 firefighters were battling 24 different wildfires as of Monday afternoon, the fire department said in a tweet.

Among those blazes was the Creek Fire, which started on Friday in steep and rugged terrain, has so far spread to 78,790 acres and is zero percent contained, according to Cal Fire.


Record-breaking heat


The department said on Twitter that 976 personnel were battling the fire, which had continued to grow "under extreme conditions."

Another rapidly growing fire, the Oak Fire, began Sunday in Mendocino County and has already grown to 1,000 acres.

Cal Fire said that 83 personnel were on hand to battle the blaze, which was zero percent contained.

Record temperatures over the three-day Labor Day weekend have aggravated already dangerous fire conditions and further stressed exhausted California firefighters.

California has been baking under scorching conditions with temperatures reaching a record 121 degrees Fahrenheit (49 Celsius) on Sunday in Woodland Hills, an all-time high for Los Angeles County, the National Weather Service said.


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