The largest of 23 major wildfires currently burning in drought-stricken California has destroyed two dozen houses and 26 outbuildings, while over 12,000 people have been advised to flee their homes in the Lower Lake region. Called the Rocky Fire, the blaze is burning less than 100 miles north of San Francisco, and over 3,000 firefighters are working to contain the fast-moving blaze, which has so far consumed 93 square miles.
High temperatures, low humidity and the ongoing drought have created problematically-ideal circumstances for wildfires to grow in California. Speaking to USA Today, CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant explained: “The grass, the brush, the trees, they are tinder-dry.”
As a result the fire was able to triple in size over the weekend, with the flames gathering enough strength that the fire is creating its own winds, hampering efforts by firefighters. Some 6,300 properties remain at risk of being engulfed, but efforts to combat the fire have only managed to bring it to five percent containment.
Across California, 8,000 firefighters are working to extinguish 23 wildfires, many of which are believed to have been started by lightning striking bone-dry earth. As scattered thunderstorms spread throughout the area Monday August 3, rainy conditions will aid in efforts to put out the wildfires, while lightning presents a risk of starting yet more fires.
In addition to wildfires burning throughout California, fires are also blazing in Oregon, Montana, Arizona and Idaho. In Washington, the wettest forest in the United States is also ablaze, creating concerns about the future of fires in the US.
Images screengrab via AP