California’s biggest wildfire so far this year ignites, but officials say it’s because flames are eating away pockets of unburned vegetation in a perimeter firefighters have built

PARADISE, Calif .– The biggest wildfire in California so far this year broke out on Friday, but that was because the flames were eating away pockets of unburned vegetation in a perimeter that firefighters have built, authorities said. .

The Dixie Fire covered 376 square miles (974 square kilometers) in the mountains of northern California where 42 homes and other buildings were destroyed and more than 10,000 remain at risk.

Vegetation that burned inside the blaze on Thursday produced a huge “cloud of fire”, towering columns of smoke and ash that can pose a danger to firefighters. control they have over the fire.

“There is nothing near our line at the moment. It’s all the indoor fuels that burn, ”Mike Wink, an incident commander, said in an online briefing.

The fire northeast of the town of Paradise, which was largely destroyed in 2018 by the country’s deadliest wildfire in a century, has been burning since July 13 and is more than 20% contained .

Meanwhile, concerns about the risk of gradual blackouts in the coming weeks prompted California Governor Gavin Newsom to sign an emergency proclamation on Friday that offers cash incentives to large energy users such as factories or casinos to save money when the power supply is tight.

The state could face a shortage of 3,500 megawatts on days when soaring heat increases demand. This is in part because an intensifying drought has reduced water levels in reservoirs and decreased output from hydroelectric dams.

A historic drought and recent heat waves linked to climate change have made wildfires more difficult to fight in the American West. Scientists say climate change has made the region much hotter and drier over the past 30 years and will continue to make weather conditions more extreme and forest fires more frequent and destructive.

The US Drought Monitor reported this week that although a strong monsoon brought drought-mitigating precipitation to the southwest, extremely dry conditions persist in northern California and the northwest, where there is had an expansion of “exceptional drought”, the worst category.

In southern Oregon, the nation’s largest wildfire was more than half contained after burning more than 1,673 square kilometers (646 square miles) in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. The active behavior of the fire there was also mostly interior pockets of burning vegetation, according to a situation report.

Nearly 22,000 firefighters and support personnel were battling 83 large active wildfires covering 2,720 square miles (7,044 square kilometers) in 13 states on Friday, the National Interagency Fire Center said.

“The weather of the fires and fuel conditions across the country continue to challenge forest fire managers,” an agency statement said.

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