California Fires Set Destruction Record

1,312 square miles destroyed
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2008 3:48 AM CDT
Mike Silva, with the Los Angeles Fire Department, oversees a fire crew comprised of female inmates from the California Department of Corrections working in the vicinity of the Gap wildfire.    (AP Photo/Ric Francis)
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(Newser) – California wildfires over the last three weeks have set a record for widespread destruction, reports the Los Angeles Times. Some 840,000 acres—1,300 square miles—have been scorched by 1,700 fires, sparked by lightning strikes. Firefighters are bringing the remaining 300 blazes under control, but officials worry that the worst is yet to come as summer temperatures climb  in extremely dry conditions.

The series of fires that began in late June "has definitely surpassed any of our large fire events," said a spokesman for the state Forestry Department. "Historically, we see the most devastating fires in September and October. As we go on this summer, things will only get drier." The blazes have destroyed 100 homes, killing one resident in north central California.