On a bone-dry day in August 2013, Kate Wilkin and her fellow fire science students ventured into the dense Stanislaus National Forest in the western Sierra Nevada. They scrambled over roots and fallen trees to identify pines and firs, measure their sizes, and gauge their fuel potential for wildfires.
Center for Fire Research and Outreach at UC Berkeley
If you think it’s been a fiery year, we’re only just getting started.
Since January, the number of fires threatening areas guarded by California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has jumped roughly 23 percent compared to the five-year average. Their size has grown, too, by nearly 90 percent, according to data released by the agency.
Judging strictly by recent headlines, you might think this is an epic fire season; a “grim beginning to California fire season,” with conflagrations “raining fire from the sky,” as recent reports have characterized it. In fact, this year is on par with last year and not too far askew from longer-term averages, says fire scientist Scott Stephens.