California heat wave triggers weekend fires

Rescuers in military helicopters assisted 207 campers in California’s Sierra National Forest after a wildfire left them stranded over the weekend. The Creek Fire began on Friday and burned through more than 114 square miles of timber and injured a dozen people, including at least two severely. Several blazes also started in Southern California, including one that closed off the mountainous roads in Angeles National Forest. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said some 14,800 firefighters are battling 23 major fires in the state.

Why the rise in weekend fires? Many parts of California recorded record-breaking temperatures over the weekend, including a high of 121 degrees in the Woodland Hills neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley on Sunday. The National Weather Service in Sacramento on Sunday said more than 99 percent of the state was under an excessive heat warning or a heat advisory. Wildfires have burned a record 2 million acres in California this year.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read Julie Borg’s report in Beginnings about the relationship between climate change and wildfires.

Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2020, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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