A temperature drop of as much as 60 degrees helped contain wildfires that spread in Colorado and Montana in the hot, windy weather. But similar weather was not in the immediate forecast for California.
On Tuesday, destroyed the Nacimiento Station, a fire station in the Los Padres National Forest on the state’s central coast, the U.S. Forest Service said. Firefighters there suffered from burns and smoke inhalation, and three were flown to a hospital in Fresno, where one was in critical condition.
Helicopters were used this week to rescue hundreds of people stranded in the burning Sierra National Forest, where the Creek Fire has destroyed 365 buildings, including at least 45 homes, and 5,000 structures were threatened, fire officials said.
In Southern California, fires burned in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties, and the forecast called for the arrival of the region’s Santa Anas. The hot, dry winds could reach 50 miles per hour, forecasters said.
People in a half-dozen foothill communities east of Los Angeles were being told to stay alert because of a fire in the Angeles National Forest.
“The combination of gusty winds, very dry air, and dry vegetation will create critical fire danger,” the National Weather Service warned.
The U.S. Forest Service on Monday decided to close all eight national forests in the southern half of the state and shutter campgrounds statewide.
More than 14,000 firefighters are battling fires. Two of the three largest blazes in state history are burning in the San Francisco Bay area, though they are largely contained after burning three weeks.
California has set a record with nearly 2.3 million acres burned this year, and the worst part of the wildfire season is just beginning.
Many studies in recent years have linked bigger wildfires in America to global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas, especially because climate change has made California much drier, making plants catch fire more easily.
“The frequency of extreme wild fire weather has doubled in California over the past four decades, with the main driver being the effect of rising temperature on dry fuels, meaning that the fuel loads are now frequently at record or near-record levels when ignition occurs and when strong winds blow,” Stanford University climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh said in an email.