Wildfires from the west sweep through California and Arizona as drought increases the extreme conditions that lead to them

(CNN) – Multiple wildfires sparked evacuations in California and Arizona over the weekend after rapidly scorching more than 607 hectares of land. Hundreds of thousands of hectares have burned in the region as drought continues to affect the area. amid rising temperatures. The heat wave is expected to worsen in the coming days; there are more than 48 million people across the West on high heat advisory or warning.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, from January 1 to June 11, 337,296 hectares were burned across the United States in 26,833 fires, compared to the same period last year, when 266,311 hectares were burned in 20,731 fires.

As of last week, California has already faced nearly double the area burned this year compared to last year, with 2,733 fires burning a total of 5,074 hectares from January 1 to June 6, 2021, in compared to January 1, 2020 to June 6, 2020, when 2,570 hectares were burned in 2,025 fires. By Sunday, the Cal Fire website showed that number had risen to 6,990 hectares burned in 3,151 incidents.

With temperatures throughout the West forecast to hit record highs, experts warn that the danger of extreme fires will increase throughout the week.


A wildfire south of Flagstaff that quickly spread to 400 acres prompted evacuations at a dependency Sunday, a tweet from the Arizona State Forestry reported Sunday. The fire destroyed one building and threatened nearly a dozen more, according to Inciweb.

The fire started in Cornville, 91 kilometers south of Flagstaff and 161 kilometers north of Phoenix. The cause is still under investigation. An outbuilding was destroyed by flames and several other structures were threatened, according to the tweet.

The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office ordered the evacuation of the Mingus Panorama subdivision when the fire had burned about 160 hectares in the afternoon. It is unclear how many people or houses were ordered to evacuate.

According to the tweet, aviation and ground resources were ordered to respond to the scene.

A wildfire in Cornville triggered evacuations and it quickly grew to 404 hectares after it started on Sunday.

The Arizona Department of Forest and Fire Management (DFFM) warned of a very high fire danger for the weekend, as warm temperatures and dry storms were expected in the region.

The department said in a news release Saturday that critical fire weather included the potential for “rapid ignition of fuel and spread of fire with very erratic and extreme fire behavior.”

The statement said the state has already recorded 84,251 hectares burned in 848 wildfires this year, compared to 56,045 hectares burned in 902 wildfires during the same period last year.

The area around the Arizona wildfires is so dry that heavy firefighting equipment is causing small flames

“It is essential to emphasize to the public the critical situation we are facing. Firefighters already have a challenge and any fires that start in this drought-stricken fuel bed, combined with the critical climate ahead, could lead to large, fast-moving and very active forest fires, ”he said in the DFFM fire manager John Truett said. “Take personal responsibility, follow fire restrictions, and do your part in prevention efforts.”

Arizona has already recorded two massive fires, the Telegraph and the Mescal Fires, which have burned more than 64,749 hectares, according to Inciweb.


According to Cal Fire, this Sunday there were three new fires in California, including the Flats, in San Bernardino County, which reached an area of ​​161 hectares in a few hours. Two houses were destroyed, three houses and three outbuildings were damaged, and a firefighter was injured, according to an update on the fire published by Inciweb.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered in the Pinyon Crest neighborhood, near the Santa Rosa Mountains, which is about 200 kilometers southeast of Los Angeles.

The fire crossed Highway 74 and traveled northeast, according to a tweet from the San Bernardino National Forest.

California County Water Shortage Emergency Declared 0:43

At least 400 people responded to the fire, which started around 11:15 a.m. local time. The fire is 10% contained and the cause is still unknown.

In another fire incident, evacuation orders were lifted for the Goose Fire in Amador County, east of Sacramento, after the fire charred about 24 hectares, according to the Cal Fire website. Firefighters achieved 30% containment in the fire that started Sunday afternoon.

135 kilometers to the northwest, another fire broke out in Yuba City, according to Cal Fire.

The Beale fire has consumed 60 hectares and is 20% contained, according to the agency’s website. The cause has yet to be determined.

The heat wave could break temperature records

According to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy, the cities of Phoenix and Las Vegas could break their all-time records for warm temperatures in June.

Las Vegas and other cities could break their all-time heat records Guy explained, adding that “this could be the hottest week ever recorded in Las Vegas.”

“The heat wave set in last week as well and this week it is getting even hotter across the West and Southwest.”

Guy says Arizona could break all of its all-time records this week, with Phoenix temperatures forecast to be between 6 ° C and 7 ° C above normal every day this week, reaching an estimated temperature of 47.2. ° C to 47.7 ° C.

From Tuesday through Saturday, some locations could reach 120 degrees. The highest temperature ever recorded in Phoenix in June was 50 ° C in 1990, according to Guy.

When heat peaks Thursday across most of the region, more than 250 high temperature records could be broken through Friday across the West, he said.

Such high heat, coupled with drought, will only increase the risk of forest fires by the end of the week.

According to the US Drought Monitor, the drought worsened in the west through June 8, going from 87% to 89%.

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