Firefighters are making headway on one of the largest fires in California but are facing challenges with the weather to come
By Aya Elamroussi, CNN
California firefighters have made significant strides in taming one of the largest fires in the wildfire-prone state’s history, but the heat and wind are likely to persist, challenging those on the front lines of several fires.
The Dixie Fire – the second largest in California history – is 94% contained after burning 963,276 acres for more than 70 days, according to Cal Fire. The fire destroyed 1,329 buildings and damaged another 95.
The Dixie Fire is the largest of nine major fires currently burning in California, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
In Southern California, firefighters are preparing for warmer weather, which is an ideal opportunity for fires to continue or spread.
“We have another day of improved fire weather for Southern California,” said CNN meteorologist Michael Guy. “Record highs fell in some areas on Tuesday and are forecast again for Wednesday.”
Heat warnings have been issued for the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County, inland areas in Orange County, and the San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego valleys, according to Guy.
Given the fire threatening weather conditions, the Southern California Department of the National Interagency Coordination Center anticipates that fire activity in this region will be moderate in the coming days due to the dry and windy conditions.
As global warming has affected weather conditions, fire seasons have grown longer, with greater potential for more increased intensity fires and more land scorched – and California bears the brunt of it.
According to Cal Fire, more than 7,500 fires in California burned 2.3 million acres this year, less than at this point in the devastating 2020 fire season but more than double the five-year annual average.
“A warmer climate is directly linked to a higher risk of fire: the fire season is getting longer; drier and warmer conditions make more vegetation available for fuel; The increase in lightning activity will lead to more natural ignitions, ”said a United Nations report.
Giant sequoia trees threatened by flames
In Sequoia National Park, some of the largest trees in the world are threatened by the KNP Complex Fire, which burned 26,611 hectares, according to InciWeb, a national forest fire clearing house. The agency did not report any containment on Wednesday.
“[The fires] are still growing and have the potential to affect the infrastructure and resources of Sequoia National Park. We are aggressively attacking these fires to suppress them, ”said the National Park Service.
“Two thirds of all giant sequoia groves in the Sierra Nevada were burned in forest fires between 2015 and 2020,” said the park service.
Over the weekend, the flames broke through a “small area” of the giant forest in Sequoia National Park, where officials had prepared the trees for fire hazard, officials said.
The base of the General Sherman tree, the largest tree in the world by volume, was wrapped in a refractory aluminum-based material.
Officials have closed Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks due to fire activity, and air quality warnings are in place throughout the San Joaquin Valley due to fires in and around Sequoia National Park.
The CNN Wire
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CNN’s Michael Guy and Dakin Andone contributed to this report.