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'Unfathomable' Fires Break New Record

California fires have destroyed over 4M acres
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 4, 2020 1:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Deadly wildfires in California have burned more than 4 million acres this year—more than double the previous record for the most land burned in a single year in the state, the AP reports. California fire officials said the state hit the astonishing milestone Sunday with about two months remaining in the fire season. The previous record was set two years ago when wildfires destroyed 1.67 million acres. "The 4 million mark is unfathomable. It boggles the mind, and it takes your breath away," said Scott McLean, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire. Cal Fire said in a statement Sunday that there have been more than 8,200 wildfires since the start of the year that have burned "well over 4 million acres in California."

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The flames have scorched an area larger than Connecticut. About 17,000 firefighters are still battling nearly two dozen major blazes throughout the state. Despite the grim milestone, there were signs for optimism this weekend. Powerful winds that had been expected to drive flames in recent days hadn't materialized, and warnings of extreme fire danger for hot, dry, and gusty weather expired Saturday morning as fog rolled in. Clearer skies in some areas allowed large air tankers to drop retardant after being sidelined by smoky conditions several days earlier. Virtually all the damage has occurred since mid-August, when five of the six largest fires in state history erupted. Numerous studies have linked bigger wildfires in America to climate change from the burning of coal, oil, and gas.

(Read more wildfires stories.)

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