“At this point, California is an area of high concern because of drought conditions for such a long time,” says Randy Eardley who is the spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.
The drought that has gone on for years is definitely a factor, but so is the earlier than usual start for the fire season. Eardley added that for the past decade the fire season in California has been starting earlier and earlier, “and now it is ripe for more fires.”
Chris Williams, professor at Clark University, agrees and adds, “Vegetation stressed by drought is more flammable because of low moisture content. Severe, prolonged drought also leads to plant mortality and increased litterfall in some instances, which can increase fuel loads overall,”
Luckily this fire, as the first of the year, has caused no structural damage. Evacuations remain only voluntary for the area and only minor injuries like eye irritation and dust and smoke inhalation to firefighters, but this fire has still been a major drain on energy and resources.
Brian Grant, public information officer for the US Forest Service at San Bernardino National Forest, said, “We had people and equipment pre-positioned down here since Tuesday ready for something like this.”
Grant continued to remind residents of the area to be on the lookout and remain extra cautious.
Robert Dull, senior research fellow in the Environmental Science Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, says that climate change is partly to blame.
Dull noted that the six worst years ever for fires, in accordance with acreage burned tallies, have all occured in the last ten years. “This means that fires are occurring with greater frequency in California, but also more broadly throughout the western United States.”
This isn't just a California problem, people. Be wary and be vigilant about watching for possible fire causes that can be prevented, and perhaps 2014 won't go down as the worst fire year ever.
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