Quantcast

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

Climate
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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on Nov. 15, 2018 in Paradise, Calif. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Respecting scientists has never been a priority for the Trump Administration. Now, a new investigation from The Guardian revealed that Department of the Interior political appointees sought to play up carbon emissions from California's wildfires while hiding emissions from fossil fuels as a way to encourage more logging in the national forests controlled by the Interior department.

Read More
Slowing deforestation, planting more trees, and cutting emissions of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases like methane could cut another 0.5 degrees C or more off global warming by 2100. South_agency / E+ / Getty Images

By Dana Nuccitelli

Killer hurricanes, devastating wildfires, melting glaciers, and sunny-day flooding in more and more coastal areas around the world have birthed a fatalistic view cleverly dubbed by Mary Annaïse Heglar of the Natural Resources Defense Council as "de-nihilism." One manifestation: An increasing number of people appear to have grown doubtful about the possibility of staving-off climate disaster. However, a new interactive tool from a climate think tank and MIT Sloan shows that humanity could still meet the goals of the Paris agreement and limit global warming.

Read More
Sponsored
A baby burrowing owl perched outside its burrow on Marco Island, Florida. LagunaticPhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.

Read More
Amazon and other tech employees participate in the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice continue to protest today. Karen Ducey / Getty Images

Hundreds of Amazon workers publicly criticized the company's climate policies Sunday, showing open defiance of the company following its threats earlier this month to fire workers who speak out on climate change.

Read More
Locusts swarm from ground vegetation as people approach at Lerata village, near Archers Post in Samburu county, approximately 186 miles north of Nairobi, Kenya on Jan. 22. "Ravenous swarms" of desert locusts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia threaten to ravage the entire East Africa subregion, the UN warned on Jan. 20. TONY KARUMBA / AFP / Getty Images

East Africa is facing its worst locust infestation in decades, and the climate crisis is partly to blame.

Read More