California wildfires continue to grow in frequency and ferocity and are set to beat the 2020 records, the year that was the worst recorded in US history. Consecutive droughts have depleted soil moisture and have dried out vegetation. This has made them extremely vulnerable to spontaneous combustion. Governor Gavin Newsom has extended droughts orders to over 41 counties to tide over the California wildfires.
Several factors have combined to make California particularly vulnerable to wildfires. The state receives a majority of its moisture in the fall of winter. The leaves and roots conserve it throughout the year. but the leaves and branches are withering faster because of warmer temperatures and lack of precipitation.
California wildfires are being directly linked to climate change. Prolonged periods of dryness are making the forests extremely vulnerable to even the slightest spark.
Recent California Wildfires Increasing In Intensity And Size
California wildfires have been recorded since 1932. But the period after 2000 has seen the occurrence of 10 of the state’s largest fires. The largest-ever was recorded in 2018 and 2020.
Dr. Williams says that California wildfires are just waiting to happen. All the ingredients for a devastating wildfire are ever-present and it is humans who usually light the first spark. And climate change has ensured that there will be more devastating fires in the future.
While some fires are caused by lightning, it is humans who are mostly responsible. Fires have been started by power lines, road accidents, and even fireworks. Even fires that are started by the dry conditions are human-engineered to some level as global warming has led to the drying out in such places.
Another reason for the spurt in California wildfires is that people have opted to live closer to the forests. These interfaces between the urban and the forests are inclined to burn all the same.
We might also have created bigger fires by putting out previous smaller ones. That left behind a lot of combustible materials waiting to be set off by the next big fire. Firefighters are trying to resolve this through controlled fires.
The Bootleg fire continues to be the biggest of the California wildfires and has already burned over 360,000 acres in Oregon and Northern California, threatening the state’s total power grid. Fire officials have asked to be prepared for quick evacuation, conserve electricity, and guard against heatstroke.