Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

After a Quiet Summer, 'Dangerous' California Wildfire Burns Equivalent of 753 Football Fields in Five Hours

Climate
After a Quiet Summer, 'Dangerous' California Wildfire Burns Equivalent of 753 Football Fields in Five Hours
A helicopter drops water on a smoldering area of the Tenaja wildfire burning Sept. 5 in the hills above Murrieta, California. Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images

A fast moving wildfire burned through 753 football fields worth of Southern California in just five hours Wednesday, CNN reported.


The Tenaja Fire jumped from 25 acres when it was first reported Wednesday afternoon to 994 acres just five hours later. As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the blaze had spread to 1,974 acres and was 10 percent contained, The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) reported. The fire-fighting agency said the blaze was moving at a "dangerous rate of speed," according to TIME.

The fire broke out in La Cresta, California in Riverside County and was named for a road near where it ignited. It has since spread to other cities including Murrieta, California, a town of 104,000 people 80 miles south of Los Angeles. Since Wednesday, around 415 homes and 1,200 people had been evacuated, Riverside County Fire Department spokesperson Jody Hagemann told TIME. Others are waiting for an evacuation order.

"It's scary," Murrieta resident Bob Campini told ABC7. "We've packed up. We're waiting to see if we're going to get evacuated or not."

Schools in the Murrieta Unified School District were closed Thursday, and more area districts said they would close Friday, according to ABC7. Public health officials also warned residents to protect themselves from smoke by staying indoors as much as possible.

"Ash and smoke can be hard on anyone to breathe, but especially those with lung disease," Riverside County public health official Dr. Cameron Kaiser said in a statement reported by TIME. "Everyone worries about the flames, but smoke can impact you even if you're miles away from the fire."

More than 800 firefighters battled the flames, but they struggled due to "difficult terrain" and shifting winds, ABC7 reported.

"The winds will come out of one direction in the morning, to where the wind will be blowing out toward the ocean, and then by the afternoon, we'll get a 180 degree switch in the wind direction and the fire will tend to start burning downhill and start coming back into neighborhoods," CAL FIRE Division Chief Todd Hopkins told ABC7.

The immediate cause of the fire is unknown, but lightning strikes were observed in the area Wednesday.

The blaze comes after a relatively quiet year for California wildfires, The Los Angeles Times pointed out. Fires burned more than 1.2 million acres in 2017 and 1.8 million acres in 2018, but only 51,079 acres as of Aug. 18 this year. Experts attribute the change to cooler temperatures, late spring rains and less extreme winds in 2019. In general, the rise in California wildfires has been attributed in part to the climate crisis.

Map shows tracks and strength of Atlantic tropical cyclones in 2020. Blues are tropical depressions and tropical storms; yellow through red show hurricanes, darker shades meaning stronger ones. Master0Garfield / Wikimedia Commons

By Astrid Caldas

As we reach the official end of hurricane season, 2020 will be one for the record books. Looking back at these long, surprising, sometimes downright crazy past six months (seven if you count when the first named storms actually started forming), there are many noteworthy statistics and patterns that drive home the significance of this hurricane season, and the ways climate change may have contributed to it.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Protesters shouting slogans on megaphones during the climate strike on September 25 in Lisbon, Portugal. Hugo Amaral / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Dana Drugmand

An unprecedented climate lawsuit brought by six Portuguese youths is to be fast-tracked at Europe's highest court, it was announced today.

The European Court of Human Rights said the case, which accuses 33 European nations of violating the applicants' right to life by disregarding the climate emergency, would be granted priority status due to the "importance and urgency of the issues raised."

Read More Show Less

Trending

A child plays with a planet Earth ball during the Extinction Rebellion Strike in London on Apr. 18, 2019. Brais G. Rouco / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

Will concern over the climate crisis stop people from having children?

Read More Show Less

By Liz Kimbrough

Six grassroots environmental activists will receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in a virtual ceremony this year. Dubbed the "Green Nobel Prize," this award is given annually to environmental heroes from each of the world's six inhabited continents.

Read More Show Less
Mount Ili Lewotolok spews ash during a volcanic eruption in Lembata, East Nusa Tenggara on November 29, 2020. Joy Christian / AFP / Getty Images

A large volcano in Indonesia erupted Sunday, sending a plume of smoke and ash miles into the air and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate the region.

Read More Show Less