California Kicks Off 2021 With a Fiery Surge

Wildfire stats show a January with 3 times the five-year average for that month
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2021 9:25 AM CST
California Shares an Ominous Wildfire Number
This photo shows a wildfire in northern San Diego County on Dec. 24, 2020.   (Cal Fire San Diego via AP)

If Californians were hoping for a better 2021, signs aren't looking good on the wildfire front. USA Today notes that it's not even the Golden State's traditional wildfire season yet, which typically runs from June through September, yet the year is kicking off with some alarming stats. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, there were 97 fires that burned on 22 acres on nonfederal land in January 2020. Last month, that fire number tripled, to 297 fires that charred 1,171 acres. January's numbers are also three times the five-year average for that month, which is 108 fires across 58 acres statewide. Worse still: adding in fires on US Forest Service land brings this January's count to 345, per Cal Fire. "It's just a good reminder that the majority, 95%, of fires are human caused," says a Cal Fire rep.

NBC News notes that between the wildfires and mudslides caused by heavy rains, California is now subjected to a "year-round disaster season." As the New York Times reported last month, it's gotten so bad that some residents who've stuck around in the past are now rethinking their decision to tough it out. "I see the vision of this town, and I want to be a part of that, but not if it means my marriage," Aaron Singer, a resident of the destroyed town of Paradise whose wife now says she might want to leave, told the paper. Others, however, seem in it for the long haul. "You can't just live your life in fear like that," a man who saw his family business burn in the Creek Fire tells ABC7. "We love this place and it's certainly worth rebuilding." (Despite what Marjorie Taylor Greene says, the wildfires are not caused by space lasers.)

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