California wildfires: Over 2 million acres of land destroyed | News | DW | 07.09.2020

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California wildfires: Over 2 million acres of land destroyed

California's forest and fire authority said the record was set early, with September and October typically the worst months of the year. The previous record tally was extremely recent, from 2018.

On Monday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or "Cal Fire," said that  over 2 million acres of land had been burned by wildfires this year,  a state record. The fires had destroyed over 3,300 structures and killed 8 people.

A spokeswoman for Cal Fire told the Associated Press that the record was set early, with the most dangerous part of the year ahead.

"It's a little unnerving because September and October are historically our worst months for fires," Lynne Tolmachoff of Cal Fire told AP. "It's usually hot, and the fuels really dry out. And we see more of our wind events."

Read more:  Wildfires: Can we adapt to live with them?

The last time California saw such massive damage was in 2018, when fires affected 1.96 million acres of land.

Cal Fire said that as of Monday morning, 14,100 firefighters were fighting 23 major fires across California. The western state of the US has had 900 wildfires since August 15, caused mainly by lightning strikes.

Heat wave exacerbating matters

Large parts of California are in the midst of prolonged hot temperatures, with Fresno topping Monday's charts with highs of 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The heat had driven up power use in the state. Pacific Gas & Electric, the state's largest utility serving customers in Central and Northern California, warned that it might cut power starting Tuesday because of the increased danger from fires.

On Sunday, California's Governor, Gavin Newsom, declared a state of emergency in five counties.

The wildfire in Fresno county has burned around 79,000 acres of land and is yet to be contained.

The Fresno fire led to 200 people being airlifted away from the Sierra National Forest on Sunday. The wildfires have also destroyed 10,000 acres of the Cleveland National Forest.

Meanwhile, the fire in San Bernardino county was caused by a pyrotechnic device. A couple caused the fire when they set off a large colored firework to reveal the gender of their baby — the second case of its kind within a month. 

am/msh (AP, Reuters)

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