The traditional fire season has only just begun, and already in California firefighters have battled at least 1,000 more wildfires than in a typical year.
So far this year, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has sent crews to nearly 5,000 wildfires, which have charred a combined 92,139 acres on non-U.S. Forest Service land, according to a statewide fire activity update issued this week.
In the last week alone, Cal Fire has responded to 167 wildfires that have cropped up ahead of the fall season, which is notorious for strong Santa Ana winds that have fanned destructive fires in Southern California in the past.
Federal forest land has already taken a huge hit in Northern California, where a series of fires has scorched nearly 275,000 acres combined. The largest fire — Happy Camp Complex at 131,996 — is 85% contained. Just behind that blaze is the devastating King fire, which has burned 89,574 acres.
“These times are unprecedented here in California with respect to fire behavior,” Cal Fire Unit Chief Mike Kaslin said last week during an update on the King fire.
Cooler temperatures and some moisture are expected this week, but the cooler weather will bring strong winds, creating “critical fire weather conditions” for much of the eastern Northern California region, according to the National Weather Service.
Fire officials have said drought has worsened fire conditions and has significantly dried out vegetation, creating fast-moving flames.