Aug 17, 2016

Southern California Fire Flared Up at 5 Acres. A Day Later, It Covered 30,000.

Cajon Pass, California
USA
by
Ciaran Mcevoy and Jess Bidgood
,
The New York Times
As of Tuesday night, more than 80,000 people had to evacuate because of the fire. Photo: Reuters and KESQ via Associated Press
As of Tuesday night, more than 80,000 people had to evacuate because of the fire. Photo: Reuters and KESQ via Associated Press

The first report of the fire came late on Tuesday morning from the San Bernardino National Forest Service: “5 acres in heavy fuels w/ 10mph winds.”

Three hours later, the fire had grown to 2,500 acres. Two hours after that, it covered 6,500 acres. And then the wildfire exploded. By nightfall, the fire had topped 18,000 acres and by morning 30,000 acres. 

More than 24 hours later, none of the Blue Cut Fire was reported to be contained.

...

The wildfire, which started in the Cajon Pass, about 13 miles northwest of San Bernardino, “hit hard, it hit fast, it hit with an intensity that we haven’t seen before,” said Mark Hartwig, the San Bernardino County fire chief.

A combination of high winds, high temperatures and low humidity in California’s fifth year of drought made for prime wildfire conditions, Bob Poole, a spokesman for the United States Forest Service, said in an interview with KTLA, a Los Angeles television station.

...

Officials also cautioned that explosive fires like this were becoming more common.

“One of the things that we’re seeing is that the fires are burning in really an unprecedented fashion,” said Glenn Barley, the San Bernardino unit chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which is known as Calfire. “It’s to the point where explosive fire growth is the new normal this year, and that’s a challenge for all of us to take on"