Thursday, July 20, 2017

'Extreme And Aggressive' California Wildfires Force Thousands To Evacuate

Laurel Wamsley
July 19, 2017

A wildfire in the foothills near Yosemite National Park has consumed eight structures — and is threatening 1,500 more in tiny Mariposa, Calif.


The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, posted on its website that "firefighters experienced extreme and aggressive fire behavior" on Tuesday. "Firefighters on the ground as well as aircraft are actively working to contain and suppress the fire."


Cal Fire spokesman Koby Johns says that the cause of the fire is unknown but that its speed is due to the region's drought being followed by heavy rains.


"Lots of tall grasses, lots of bushes, and they essentially provide like a ladder to the trees," Johns told Valley Public Radio's Ezra David Romero. "A lot of those trees are dead oak trees and then you have fire spreading from tree to tree."


In the city of Saratoga, Calif., near San Jose, the pilot of a water-dropping helicopter was forced to ground the aircraft when a drone appeared unexpectedly, Ryan Cronin of the Santa Clara County Fire Department told the Times.

"It really put them in a precarious position," he said of the drone. "We didn't appreciate that much."

Wildfires have been especially prevalent this year. Fires have burned 4.4 million acres so far in 2017, compared with 2.7 million acres over the same period in 2016, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Large fires are currently reported in 12 states, all in the western U.S.

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