California Dixie Fire: Emergency services tackle huge wildfire
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California is in the grips of a deadly wildfire season, with 11 blazes currently burning in the state. Four people are missing and thousands have had to be evacuated as the US county fires rage on, with the Dixie Fire now becoming the second-largest wildfire in history. Officials say the fire, which has so far ravaged some 489,000 acres and destroyed nearly all of the historic town of Greenville, could take weeks to contain.
Parts of California have experienced record-breaking temperatures this year, prompting severe drought and triggering major wildfires in the region.
More than twice as many acres of land have been burned so far this year compared to the five-year average.
Fire ecologist Dr Susan Prichard, from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington, said: “We now have the conflagrations in California that we feared, following the record-setting heatwaves.
“Given that California wildfires have burned all the way into November in recent years, I’m afraid that we might be set up for another record-breaking fire season.”
In total, more than 3.5 million acres of land have been burned in the USA this year.
This is one million more acres than at this point in the 2020 fire season which was named the most destructive season on record at its conclusion.
In comparison, recent wildfires have also erupted across parts of Europe and North America following unprecedented heatwaves – and many of these areas could be experiencing the worst fire season on record.
Greece has seen record-breaking blazes with 12 times more land being burned than average.
The majority of this destruction has been on the Greek island of Evia – where more than 2,000 people have been evacuated by sea.
More than 50,000 hectares of pine forests have been engulfed in flames, with the destruction in the Peloponnese being described as “incalculable”.
In the 10 days to August 7, nearly 140,000 acres were burnt in Greece, according to the European Forest Fire Information System.
The average area burnt over the same period between 2008 and 2020 was 1,700 hectares.
Wildfires in Turkey have also been called “the worst in its history” according to the nation’s president.
According to the European Forest Fire Information System, around 175,000 hectares have been burned so far this year with more than 200 fires having impacted areas across western and southern Turkey.
The majority of the blazes in Turkey are now contained but the damage ranks as more than eight times the average for this time of year according to statistics gathered from 2008 to 2020.
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The top 5 worst fires in US history
The 2020 California wildfire season
August 2020 became the largest California wildfire season in record history, with some 4.4 million acres of land burned.
Hitting the record books as the worst of all those recorded, the August Complex blaze alone burned through more than 1m acres of land.
Due to the immense size of the blaze, which started after lightning strikes between August 16 and 17, it was treated as four separate incidents.
One firefighter was killed and two people seriously injured, with 935 buildings destroyed.
The SCU Lightning Complex fire ripped across parts of California, Oregon and Washington.
At one time, every 24 hours, an area the size of Washington DC was being burned.
While the North Complex fire alone was responsible for more than 300,000 acres of scorched land, killing 16 people.
The 2011 Texas wildfire season
Fires broke out in November 2010 following a drought that lasted 271 months.
By October 16, 2011, about 3,853,475 acres of Texas had burned with 2,947 homes lost to the flames.
Four firefighters died fighting the blazes, along with six other people.
The Great Fire of 1910 in Idaho and Montana
A total of 87 people were killed in the wildfires, which burned an area of some 3 million acres.
The fire was made up of around 2,000 separate blazes, which officials say ripped through an area the size of Connecticut.
The fire burned over two days on the weekend of August 20 to 21, when strong winds helped fan the flames.
The Great Michigan fire of 1871
Several wildfires broke out on the same day, caused by strong winds, and burned 2.5 million acres.
Some even believe lightning or a meteor shower could have started the blaze, which started on October 8 and destroyed several towns.
The 2008 California wildfire season
Some 1,593,690 acres of land burned during the course of the year, from 6,255 fires.
A total of 32 people died, including 13 firefighters, with at least 93 injured.
The cost of the blaze is estimated to be in the region of $651 million.
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