California blaze raises fears for dangerous wildfire season

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Jun 18, 2024, 08:24 AM


Jun 18, 2024, 08:24 AM

LOS ANGELES - California firefighters on June 17 tackled the state’s biggest blaze of the year so far, as fears intensify over ominous conditions forecast for the hot, dry months ahead.

The inferno just north of Los Angeles rapidly burned through almost 15,000 acres (60 square km) over the weekend, forcing the evacuation of more than a thousand campers from a recreational park and the closure of a popular boating lake.

Some 1,150 firefighters were working to contain the so-called “Post Fire,” dousing the flames from seven air tankers and constructing perimeter lines, but it remained just eight percent contained by June 17 morning.

The blaze is “exhibiting extreme fire behavior,” warned the National Interagency Fire Center, with low visibility and winds of up to 50 miles (80 km) per hour impeding firefighters’ efforts.

It was one of around a dozen mostly smaller fires to ignite over a weekend in California that saw high temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds.

The blazes come at the start of a potentially critical time for the notoriously fire-prone region.

In the western United States, recent wet winters have prompted the rapid growth of vegetation, which experts warn could prove dangerous as it dries out in the weeks and months ahead.

Grasses and trees in parts of California are already “sufficiently dry to support elevated fire weather concerns, and recent fire activity suggests that fuels are drying quickly and supportive of fire spread,” said the National Weather Service.

“As the result of two consecutive wet winters, there is a lot of additional growth, particularly of grass, but also, to a lesser extent, o...

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