CALISTOGA (CBS13/AP) – The staggering scale of California’s wildfires reached another milestone Monday: A single fire surpassed 1 million acres.
The new mark for the August Complex in the Coast Range between San Francisco and the Oregon border came a day after the total area of land burned by California wildfires this year passed 4 million acres, more than double the previous record. That’s 26 times larger than the number of acres burned in same period of 2019, according to Cal Fire. It’s also greater than the area of Connecticut.READ MORE: Trailblazer Flew Through Glass Ceilings As First Female African American Pilot To Fly U-2 Aircraft
Relief could come later this week as a long-running drought is forecast to end Wednesday.
The August Complex began as dozens of fires ignited by lightning in the Mendocino National Forest in mid-August and became California’s largest fire on record in September. As of Monday, it covered nearly 1,566 square miles (4,055 square kilometers).
Since the beginning of the year, more than 8,200 California wildfires have scorched “well over 4 million acres” or 6,250 square miles, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Sunday in a statement. There have been 31 deaths and more than 8,400 buildings have been destroyed.READ MORE: Pressure Behind The Wheel: Sacramento Mover Drove Historic Victorian Mansion Through San Francisco
Numerous studies have linked bigger wildfires in America to climate change from the burning of coal, oil, and gas. Scientists say climate change has made California much drier, meaning trees and other plants are more flammable.
Mike Flannigan, who directs the Canadian Partnership for Wildland Fire Science at Canada’s University of Alberta, says the escalation of fires in California and the U.S. West is “largely, not solely, due to human-caused climate change.”
The August Complex has destroyed 242 structures and damaged a half dozen. One firefighter has died and one has been injured. Containment was estimated at 54% on Monday.
California remains largely warm and dry but fierce winds that fanned infernos a week ago were gone. Cooling at the coast was expected to expand into the interior and a Pacific storm system remained in the forecast for Northern California by next weekend.MORE NEWS: Early COVID Patient Remembers Military Quarantine After Cruise Ship Outbreak
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.