Blog Post By Jona Elwell

Seventeen Wildfires are Burning in California. Why the Carr Fire is Special.

While we’re drowning in rainwater here in the DMV, California is battling massive forests fires. One is particular, the Carr Fire, is behaving like Cal Fire has never seen before.

It’s the largest of seventeen fires burning throughout California. The Carr Fire has burned through nearly 125,000 acres, killed six people, including two firefighters, destroyed 1,060 residences, 18 commercial structures, and continues to ravage the northern California. The Carr Fire is no joke.

It’s now considered the seventh most destructive wildfire in the state’s history and the worst recorded in Shasta County, and it’s not even close to contained. An even starker stat? The Carr Fire is one of the earliest major wildfire in decades, a sobering statistic as fire seasons continue to grow longer.

Thanks to record low vegetation moisture levels (so everything on the ground is dry and flammable), record high temperatures, and high winds, the Carr Fire was vicious from the start. It’s now 35% contained, but the firefighting costs have already exceeded $24 million.The really depressing part? The fire started from a vehicle malfunction. Those previously mentioned strong winds quickly fanned the flames and escalated things.

It’s also weirdly fascinating though. Carr is so large and so hot, it has created its own weather system and melted boats on a lake. Residents reported seeing fire tornadoes, and the rising smoke and ash created towering, dark pyrocumulus clouds.

Governor Jerry Brown had a sobering message to Californians.”We are in a new normal,” Brown said. “We are in for a really rough ride.”

The Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite took these images of the Carr Fire on July 27. Image credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team

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