Monday, July 10, 2017

Hundreds of Wildfires Are Barreling Through the Western US and Canada

George Dvorsky
July 10, 2017

Wildfires are tearing across regions in the western US and Canada, forcing over 15,000 residents to flee their homes. Hot, dry, and windy conditions are fueling the fires, many of which are expected to grow over the coming days. Discouragingly, wildfire season has only just begun.

It was a rough weekend in parts of Western Canada and the United States as hundreds of blazes swept through parts of British Columbia, California, Colorado, and Arizona. Following an unusually wet spring, the conditions in these areas are now ripe for wildfires, and crews are bracing themselves for what could be a very long and arduous fire season.


The fire near Oroville is one of 14 currently sweeping through California. Dozens of structures have been destroyed so far (with more losses expected), and some 5,000 firefighters have been dispatched to tackle the blazes. Fires were also reported in the counties of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Outside of California, wildfires forced the evacuation of hundreds in Breckenridge, Colorado, and evacuation orders were issued for the entire town of Dudleyville near Phoenix, Arizona.


Similar scenes played out in British Columbia, but at a far greater scale. The Western Canadian province is currently battling 220 blazes covering a land base of nearly 24,000 hectares (92 square miles). Over 100 different fires started on Saturday alone, and fire crews are now struggling to contain the largest blazes. The biggest of the fires is located near Ashcroft, just south of Cache Creek. Dozens of buildings have been destroyed, and both communities were forced to evacuate.


Wet and moist conditions from earlier this year led to increased volumes of vegetation, including vast growths of shrubs and long grasses that now have dried into kindling. To compound the problem, dead pine trees litter the province’s landscape—victims of a devastating pine beetle infestation. It’s only the beginning of the wildfire season in British Columbia, which runs from July to August.


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