Los Angeles Times
Heat wave sets stage for intense fire season
As record temps fuel blazes across the state, officials say the worst is likely yet to come.
SACRAMENTO — More than a week of record-setting heat across California is fueling several destructive wildfires and worsening already critical conditions ahead of the fall fire season.
Officials were bracing for an intense fire season because of California’s drought conditions. But experts say the heat wave —
likely to be the longest and hottest on record for September — is setting the stage for fires to spread much faster.
The scorching temperatures have created a “flash drying effect” by pulling out all the moisture from trees, grasses and other vegetation, according to Brent Wachter, a meteorologist at the U.S. Forest Service’s Geographic Coordination Center.
“We’ve had really low humidity and warm temperatures, not just during the daytime but through the entire 24-hour period, and it’s created increased flammability in the fields and bumped it into an ultraflammable scenario,” he said.
In the Sacramento Valley foothills, moisture levels for dead fuels have dipped to their lowest in about 25 to 30 years, according to Wachter.
That is the area where the Mosquito fire doubled to more than 13,700 acres Thursday after sparking two days earlier near Foresthill in Placer County, provoking a mandatory evacuation order for about 2,500 people, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. More than 1,000 structures were threatened and some homes have been burned down, but officials didn’t have an exact