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Wildfire 'Season' Begins With Pinnacle Fire


Photo:mbtrama/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Last week, 10 acres of Pinnacles National Park, located east of Salinas and south of San Jose, burned in a raging wildfire. The fire -- which was contained on the park's east side, near the visitor's entrance -- was started by "a spark from machinery as Caltrans workers mowed brush." It was quickly contained and put out without any injuries or property damage.

This is the first big fire of the official California Wildfire Season, which often starts in May and continues through September.

However, that "seasonal" outlook is an outdated understanding of our state's wildfires. In fact, according to this report from late April, there have already been a whopping 943 wildfires burning a total of 4,078 acres. (As the piece puts it: "More acres have burned in California in the first four months of 2015 than in nine of the past 10 years.") And it doesn't look like it's going to get any better.

The state's ongoing drought has already killed over 12 million trees, essentially turning them into fuel. Vegetation is dryer than ever, allowing it to burn at an incredible rate and turn the slightest spark into the most extreme blaze. Seeing as snowpack and reservoirs are at record lows, it's even more difficult for firefighters to bring in water to put out the fires.

All of which is to say: This is going to be one fiery year, everyone. Make sure to watch those campfires go all the way out.

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