Crystal Easter, of Spring Valley, comforts her dogs, Monday, Aug. 6, 2018, in Spring Valley, Calif., as they flee a wildfire. This is the second time this year Easter has had to evacuate. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)

Battling 18 blazes, California may face worst fire season yet

Some 14,000 firefighters from as far away as Florida and even New Zealand are struggling to curb the 18 fires.

The largest wildfire ever recorded in California needed just 11 days to blacken an area nearly the size of Los Angeles — and it’s only one of many enormous blazes that could make this the worst fire season in state history.

Some 14,000 firefighters from as far away as Florida and even New Zealand are struggling to curb 18 fires in the midst of a sweltering summer that has seen wind-whipped flames carve their way through national forest land and rural areas, threaten urban areas and incinerate neighbourhoods.

“For whatever reason, fires are burning much more intensely, much more quickly than they were before,” said Mark A. Hartwig, president of the California Fire Chiefs Association.

Some of the largest fires have erupted just within the past few weeks as the state has seen record-setting temperatures — and the historically worst months of wildfire season are still to come.

In Northern California, the record-setting Mendocino Complex — twin fires being fought as a single conflagration — gained ground Tuesday but more slowly because its own smoke covered the area and lowered the temperature, according to the California Department of Forestry.

The flames, which had burned 457 square miles (1,184 square kilometres), were raging in mostly remote areas and no deaths or serious injuries were reported but 75 homes were destroyed.

The blaze, which broke out July 27, initially spread fast because of what officials said was a perfect combination of weather, rugged topography and abundant brush and timber turned to tinder by years of drought.

Related: Largest wildfire in California history still growing

Related: Back to rubble, some ‘lost everything’ in California fire

Resources also were thin at first because thousands of firefighters already were battling a fire hundreds of miles north. That fire, which spread into the city of Redding, killed six people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. The so-called Carr Fire was less than half contained.

California is seeing earlier, longer and more destructive wildfire seasons because of drought, warmer weather attributed to climate change, and the building of homes deeper into the forests.

In becoming the biggest fire in California history, the Mendocino Complex fire broke a record set just eight months ago. A blaze in Southern California in December killed two people, burned 440 square miles (1,140 square kilometres) and destroyed more than 1,000 buildings.

California’s firefighting costs have more than tripled from $242 million in the 2013 fiscal year to $773 million in the 2018 fiscal year that ended June 30, according to Cal Fire.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” Gov. Jerry Brown warned last week. “Since civilization emerged 10,000 years ago, we haven’t had this kind of heat condition, and it’s going to continue getting worse. That’s the way it is.”

___

Associated Press writers Don Thompson in Sacramento, California, and Lorin Eleni Gill and Olga Rodriguez in San Francisco also contributed to this report.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ucluelet fears orca protection could shut down fisheries

“I beg you to start a process to put a stick in the wheels and slow these people down.”

Ucluelet mayor thanks team at last meeting

Dianne St. Jacques is not running for re-election this month.

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Driving with dope: Police talk rules on cannabis in the car

Even though pot is legal, you can’t smoke in the car

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

B.C. teens fined for possession of pot on legalization day

The pair received $230 fines for smoking pot in public

Trio of Saint Bernard find their ‘forever home’ after story goes viral

Edmonton Humane Society had put out the call to adopt Gasket, Gunther and Goliath

Nurses deliver 24,000 anti-violence postcards to B.C. Health Minister

Nurses delivered thousands of postcards to the front steps of the B.C. legislature, each carrying a message for violence prevention

Openly gay, female priest of B.C. church defying norms

Andrea Brennan serves Fernie at pivotal time in church’s history

Nova Scotia works to stop underage online cannabis sales

The government cannabis retailer moves to prevent workaround of online-age verification

Foster care is ‘superhighway to homelessness,’ B.C. youth advocate says

Katherine McParland grew up in foster care and lived on the streets

Most Read