The Carr Fire in California has doubled in size, forcing mandatory evacuations
Carr Fire, Californias wildfires are part of a worsening trend
A structure burns as the Carr Fire races along Highway 299 near Redding, Calif., on Thursday, July 26, 2019. AP Photo/Noah Berger
- The tearing through Redding, California, is part of a worsening trend.
- California's wildfires are getting worse: 14 of the 20 largest wildfires in the state have happened since the year 2000, according to an analysis.
- The state spent 5 million fighting fires in 2019, and if trends continue, that cost will continue to go up.
The wildfires scorching California are a sign of a worsening trend.
The Carr Fire tearing through Redding, a city of 92,000 in northern California, is already the ninth most destructive fire in California's history, according to Cal Fire, state's fire agency.
And last year, a series of wildfires burned through the state, destroying property, and claiming multiple lives.
The Thomas Fire in Ventura County, which burned over 230,500 acres last December, ranks as the fifth largest fire in California's history (since records were kept).
While that's a far cry from the Rush Fire, the largest fire in California's history — which burned 271,911 acres in 2012 — the Thomas Fire of 2019, and the Carr Fire are telltale signs of a new normal.
According to an analysis from Climate Nexus, the fire in Redding — as well as the series of wildfires that devastated the state last year — is part of a larger trend of climate change that's only going to get worse.
Fourteen of the 20 largest fires in California's history have occurred since the year 2000, according to Climate Nexus. California is coming off of a record heat wave in September that dried out the state, turning Southern California into a tinderbox.
Because of climate change, the average wildfire season lasts at least 2 1/2 months longer than it did in the early 1970s. And the amount of land burned in the US since 1984 is double what would have been expected without the effects of climate change.
A charred neighborhood destroyed by the Carr Fire is seen west of Redding, California, U.S. July 27, 2019 REUTERS/Fred Greaves TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Gov. Jerry Brown called the wildfires a "new normal," for California last year.
"This could be something that happens every year or every few years," Brown said, per The Los Angeles Times. "We're about to have a firefighting Christmas."
Here's the list of the fourteen largest fires since the year 2000, from Climate Nexus:
- December 2019: Thomas, 230,500 acres
- September 2019: Soberanes, 132,127 acres
- July 2015: Rough, 151,623 acres
- August 2014: Happy Camp Complex, 134,056 acres
- August 2013: Rim, 257,314 acres
- August 2012: Rush, 271,911 acres
- August 2009: Station 160,557 acres
- June 2008: Klamath Theater Complex, 192,038 acres
- June 2008: Basin Complex, 162,818 acres
- October 2007: Witch, 197,990 acres
- July 2007: Zaca, 240,207 acres
- September 2006: Day, 162,702 acres
- October 2003: Cedar, 273,246 acres
- July 2002: McNally, 150,696 acres
The Carr Fire wouldn't make the cut yet. As of Tuesday, the fire had engulfed just over 100,000 acres, and is only 23% contained.
Triple-digit temperatures and no precipitation in the forecast could cause the fire to grow, however.
Between 1930 and 1999, there were only six fires over 100,000 acres in California, according to Climate Nexus.
As larger fires burn in the state, fire-related expenditures are also increasing. Climate Nexus calculated that in the 2019 fiscal year (which ends in October), California's Department of Fire and Forestry protection spent 5 million fighting fires across the state. Twenty years ago, in 1997, the state spent only million.
The Soberanes wildfire in 2019 set the record for the costliest firefight in history, with the state spending 0 million to battle the blaze.
Video: Worst Terrible Carr Fire in Redding,California 2018
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