Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less
A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less
Left: Lemurs in Madagascar on March 30, 2017. Mathias Appel / Flickr. Right: A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf. National Marine Fisheries Service

A new analysis by scientists at the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale are on the brink of extinction.

Read More Show Less
Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular. Colin Dunn / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Julia Vergin

It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Data from a scientist measuring macroalgal communities in rocky shores in the Argentinean Patagonia would be added to the new system. Patricia Miloslavich / University of Delaware

Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.

EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.

Read More Show Less