This past week has served as a timely reminder about the need to be careful with the natural world around us, especially when it comes to starting fires.
Wildfires need fuel, oxygen, and a heat source to burn and can be started by natural causes, such as lightning, but humans cause more than 80% of fires.
In our latest wildfires update, you can read about a human-made fire in California.
Fawn Fire Caused by Boiling Water
A woman attempting to hike to Canada has been accused of starting the Fawn Fire after lighting a fire to boil water.
The Fawn Fire started on September 22 and has burned more than 8,500 acres in Shasta County, California. Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Shasta County, as the wildfire has led to evacuations and destroyed homes. It is currently 60% contained.
The woman has also been connected with starting other fires in the area.
Sequoias Continue to Burn
A few weeks ago, we reported that the KNP Complex fire, which started burning in the Sequoia National Park, was about a mile away from the Giant Forest, home to the largest tree on earth by volume. The General Sherman tree has been alive for more than 2,300 years.
The KNP Compex fire is still causing problems, as it’s only 8% contained, has burned more than 47,000 acres, and is not yet under control. So far, it has spared the General Sherman tree, but evacuation orders are in place and short grass, timber, and brush are fueling the fire.
Part of the reason the trees have survived is that they underwent a prescribed burn in 2019. Prescribed burns involve intentionally setting fires and monitoring the conditions to prevent too much vegetation from growing, which can make fires worse.
KNP Complex isn’t the only fire threatening the trees. Windy Fire is burning in the Tule River Indian Reservation and the Sequoia National Forest and is only 2% contained. Evacuation orders are in place in the area. Higher temperatures and gusty winds are posing more problems for the emergency services trying to fight the fire.
There is some good news this week, as the Dixie fire –– California’s second-largest wildfire ever which has been active for over 76 days –– is more than 94% contained.
While most of our wildfire reporting has been focused on California, areas of southern North Dakota and west of the Missouri River are being monitored for critical fire weather conditions.
Red Flag Warnings Across Other States
The National Weather Service reports critical fire weather conditions Tuesday afternoon and evening for areas of North Dakota south and west of the Missouri River.
Low relative humidity values will drop to around 10 percent, with south to southeast winds moving 15 to 25 mph. As a result, any fires that ignite will spread rapidly in dry fuels and be very difficult to control.
A Red Flag Warning is also in effect on Tuesday for portions of the Sacramento Valley, northern San Joaquin Valley, and Delta.
The NWS reports strongest winds will arrive Tuesday afternoon and will diminish by the evening. Again, these winds combined with low humidity and dry fuels lead to critical fire weather conditions.