With planning and luck firefighters quickly contained most fires ignited in the past week. But the state remains vulnerable if it doesnt adapt to more extreme weather
Throughout the last week of October, amid unprecedented, bone-dry winds, California seemed to erupt in slow motion no sooner had firefighters contained one fire than another ignited. But Californias 2019 wildfire season has so far not proven worse than previous devastating years.
Roughly 81,000 hectares (200,000 acres) have burned statewide in 2019, compared with 765,000 in 2018, and 525,000 in 2017. In the past week, California saw 183 fires ignited but most were quickly contained.
Between proactive planning and investments and no shortage of luck firefighters have been extraordinarily successful in mitigating and fighting blazes in extreme weather conditions.
This fire season is a testament to the lessons California has learned so far, as well as yet another reminder of how vulnerable the state remains if it does not adapt soon to more extreme, climate-changed weather.
Over the last few years, California and the American west at large has seen progressively worsening wildfire seasons, with more acreage burned, over longer periods of time, devastating more human life and property.
The climate crisis has sped up Californias natural cyclical weather patterns and made the age-old threat of fire into an acute and repetitive trauma.
Fall is traditionally fire season for California, as the Diablo winds in the north and Santa Ana winds in the south blow down the hillsides and across forests and brushland that has dried out from the summer heat, but not yet wetted by winter rains. Extreme winds make the vegetation especially flammable, and threaten to whip up flames and carry hot embers further and faster, creating new spot fires across the landscape.