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Current Affairs

Wildfires in California

Date: 01 September 2020 Tags: Climate Change


More than 400,000 acres have been burned in Northern and Central California, with many of the fires set off by nearly 11,000 lightning strikes. High temperatures and strong winds have made the situation even worse.



  • People living far beyond the burn zone are struggling with the smoke, and beloved sites like Big Basin Redwoods State Park have been badly damaged.

  • California, like much of the West, gets most of its moisture in the fall and winter. Its vegetation then spends much of the summer slowly drying out because of a lack of rainfall and warmer temperatures. That vegetation then serves as kindling for fires.

  • But while California’s climate has always been fire-prone, the link between climate change and bigger fires is visible.

  • Even if the conditions are right for a wildfire, still something or someone has to ignite it. Sometimes the trigger is nature, like a lightning strike, but more often than not humans are responsible. 

  • Many deadly fires have been started by downed power lines. The 2018 Carr Fire started when a truck blew out its tire and its rim scraped the pavement, sending out sparks.

  • There’s another way people have contributed to wildfires: in their choices of where to live. People are increasingly moving into areas near forests, known as the urban-wildland interface, that are inclined to burn.

  • Each fall, strong gusts known as the Santa Ana winds bring dry air from the Great Basin area of the West into Southern California. It’s not just that the Santa Ana winds dry out vegetation; they also move embers around, spreading fires.