he West is burning. Climate change is making it worse.
Almost 1.5 million acres of the US are on fire right now.
California’s largest active fire continues to burn Sunday after tearing through a small community overnight.
The Dixie Fire, which started earlier this month and has now burned more than 190,000 acres, forced a new wave of evacuations in Northern California on Saturday before striking the town of Indian Falls the same evening, destroying homes and vehicles.
According to Cal Fire, the blaze is still only 21 percent contained and “continues to display extreme fire behavior.”
It’s just one of several massive fires, supercharged by climate change and extreme drought conditions, that are currently burning across the American West, and it comes as other parts of the world confront their own climate disasters while US climate action hangs in balance in the Senate.
On Thursday, the Dixie Fire became the second fire to reach “megafire” status — burning at least 100,000 acres — in California this year. California’s Sugar Fire was the first to clear that threshold earlier this month, though it’s now 98 percent contained.
In October last year, the August Complex Fire became the first recorded “gigafire” in California history, burning more than 1 million acres.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency for the affected counties in both the Sugar and Dixie Fires — as well as the Tamarack Fire, which is currently burning along the California-Nevada border near Lake Tahoe.
All told, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, at least 86 large fires in 12 states are currently burning in the United States, covering almost 1.5 million acres and casting an oppressive pall of smoke as far away as New York City.
More than 2.77 million acres have burned so far in 2021, about 800,000 more than at the same time last year but less than in 2019 and other previous years.
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