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Fires Rage in California, Air Quality Unhealthy

 

Last updated 10/2/2020 at Noon

California's 2020 wildfire season is rewriting the record books.

California has seen nearly 7,700 fires so far this year, stretching firefighting crews thinner and thinner. Around 14,000 firefighters were battling 29 major wildfires, compared to 25 the week before. The fires have killed 12 Californians and destroyed more than 3,900 structures.

Wildfires have burned more than 3.1 million acres this year - an area approaching the size of Connecticut and the largest amount in California's recorded history. Six of the 20 largest wildfires in state history are currently raging.

One piece of good news, especially after a foreboding day of ash-filled orange skies: More favorable weather conditions are forecasted over the weekend, including lower temperatures and weaker winds. This could help slow fires' growth, while also giving exhausted firefighters a reprieve from triple-digit temperatures.

Powerful winds, a record-breaking heat wave and other conditions have propelled the fires to grow at unprecedented speeds, in some cases more than doubling in size in one day.

Jacob Bendix, a Syracuse University geography and environment professor: "We have seen multiple fires expand by tens of thousands of acres in a matter of hours, and 30 years or more ago that just wasn't fire behavior that we saw."

Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director at Cal Fire: "We are hitting the record books in ways that we never would have imagined, and definitely not records that we like breaking."

Governow Gavin Newsom: "We are experiencing an unprecedented confluence of issues. When you add to the lightning strikes the fact you have 150-plus million dead trees related to a five-plus year historic Drought in the state of California – yes, I conclude climate change profoundly has impacted the reality that we're currently experiencing."

See the Oct. 1 issue of the Borrego Sun for a full breakdown of the California fires.

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