8/8/2018 | Popular Science

Twin blazes sparked almost two weeks ago in Northern California have flared into the largest wildfire the Golden State has seen in past 100 years.

In a drought-prone landscape like California, says Scott McLean, deputy chief at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, frequent fires are nothing new. But the damage they’re causing is increasing. Almost 350 square miles burned in the state between January and August of 2017, and that number has almost tripled in the same time frame of this year, with close to 1,000 square miles already torched.

“On average, we respond to roughly 300 wildfire starts a week. Two weeks ago, we had 1,000 starts a week—that’s three times the norm,” McLean says. “The stats just keep going up.”

Those twin blazes, jointly known as the Mendocino Complex Fire, have swathed more than 450 square miles—an area almost the size of Los Angeles—in flames. As of Tuesday afternoon, McLean said the fires have destroyed more than 1,800 residences and commercial buildings. The Mendocino infernos are just two of 17 other active wildfires burning across the state, including the Carr Fire near the city of Redding that’s killed seven people and incinerated more than 1,000 homes.

“California is built to burn, and burn explosively,” says Stephen Pyne, fire historian and professor at Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences. “There’s no counterforce we can muster to stand against a fire tornado.”

Full article: https://www.popsci.com/california-water-conservation-fire