California wildfires are getting harder to fight


The fires have burned more than 140,000 acres, from soaring mountains along the California-Nevada border to forest north of Mt. Shasta and the gateway to Yosemite.

But many of 2021’s biggest blazes have one thing in common: They are burning faster and hotter than some firefighters have seen this early in the year.

A winter and spring of little rain and minimal snow runoff — followed by months of unusually warm conditions and several summer heat waves — left the vegetation primed to burn fast, giving crews little time to get a handle on the flames before they explode.

Vegetation is at record-dry levels for this time of the year, and it is at least six weeks ahead of where it should be, UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain said. It is most anomalously dry in Northern California, where many of the recent fires have ignited.

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