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The 2024 fire season is here.

Fueled by dry and windy conditions, more than two dozen fires have erupted across the state over the past week, including the two largest fires of the year so far: the Post Fire northwest of Los Angeles and the Sites Fire in Colusa County, northwest of Los Angeles. Sacramento. As of Wednesday evening, the Site Fire had grown to more than 19,000 acres and was only 10 percent contained.

Even in Rio Linda and northern Sacramento County, we have had several large grass and structure fires in the last five days.

The New York Times spoke to UCLA climatologist Daniel Swain: “We have unambiguously entered fire season. I think we're going to see a significant increase in the level of fire activity this year compared to the last two years.

Swain noted that two consecutive rainy winters led to more grass and vegetation than usual, providing ample fuel for fires. Although the land is not yet excessively dry, he warned that it could become dangerously parched in the coming months, paving the way for extreme and difficult-to-control fires.

The fire season also promises to be worrying elsewhere in the West. Two wildfires in southern New Mexico had spiraled out of control Wednesday evening, burning more than 23,000 acres and prompting the evacuation of thousands of residents.

In California, 2022 and 2023 have been relatively mild in terms of wildfires. In 2023, wildfires burned approximately 325,000 acres and damaged 70 buildings across the state; in contrast, two years earlier, fires had consumed more than 2.5 million acres and damaged 3,500 structures.

California had a lucky break last year with an unusually wet winter followed by a cool summer. Additionally, the remnants of Hurricane Hilary brought significant rainfall to Southern California in August, ending the fire season when it usually peaked.

Such a scenario is unlikely this year.

Although 2024 also started with a rainy winter, it was not as extreme as the previous year. Hot weather is already drying out vegetation, making it more flammable, as evidenced by the recent surge in fires. As summer progresses, vegetation will continue to dry out, becoming increasingly prone to fire.

Although wildfires can occur in California almost any time of year, 17 of the 20 most destructive wildfires in state history occurred between July and October, after months without rain. The other three occurred in November or December, after prolonged dry spells mimicking peak fire season conditions.

Above average temperatures are expected this summer across the state, especially in inland areas. Californians should be on alert, Swain advised.

“By July, we will likely see the manifestation of a very active fire season,” he said.

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