Drought and Wind Fueling the 2013 California Wildfires


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Intense heat and darkness both limit firefighters’ ability to control California wildfires from the air. Photo: The National Guard / CC by 2.0

It’s been a dry early spring, and that means that it’s the perfect fire-starting weather. In California, wildfire season is taking shape, with blazes up to 10,000 acres spreading across the state. Crews are fighting the fires from the air and on the ground in challenging conditions that include heavy brush and timber slash.

Most prominent in the news right now is the Springs Fire, which began in Camarillo early Thursday morning. More than 2000 homes are under threat from the fire, which is 10% contained and growing.  On Thursday evening, the fire met the water as it raced down across the highway to meet the Pacific Ocean.

While the evening gave a short reprieve, the hot weather expected on Friday isn’t going to help. As of early morning on Friday, May 3rd, the fire was over 10,000 acres in size, and The Malibu Times pegged the fire at 7 to 8 miles from the Malibu city limits. Attacks on the wildfire by air were to resume at dawn on Friday.

California Wildfires: Where Are They?

The California Statewide Fire Map shows the current extent of California’s fire season, and it’s a busy one.

Dry and windy conditions are fueling many fires. In Tehama County, firefighters fought the Panther Fire in heavy forest and logging debris. Fueled by canyon winds, this 10,000 acre woodland fire was 10 percent contained as of Thursday evening.

Many California residents are on alert for evacuation orders as they watch the fires move.  “The wind is glowing this morning,” resident Laurie Valkis of Whitewater told Decoded Science. In Riverside County, the Summit Fire has led to the evacuation of hundreds of homes, and two firefighters were sent to hospital with non life-threatening injuries. The Summit Fire currently extends over 3000 acres and is 40% contained.

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