Climate Signals summary: The Caldor Fire in California grew from 6,500 acres to more than 50,000 acres in just 24 hours. Climate change makes it more likely that fires turn into catastrophic blazes through warmer temperatures, increasing the amount of fuel (dried vegetation) available, and reducing water availability through earlier snowmelt and higher evaporation.
The Caldor Fire, which ignited Saturday evening in the Omo Ranch area, about 60 miles east of Sacramento, exploded Tuesday morning from 6,500 acres to 53,772 acres in less than 24 hours by Wednesday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.
Scott Stephens, a professor of wildfire science at the University of California-Berkeley, previously told NBC News that the explosion of wildfires in the past decade has been fueled by the culmination of drought conditions, hotter temperatures and flammable forest debris, like downed trees. These conditions, he said, are exacerbated by climate change. "The wildfire growth in the last 10 to 15 years has really exceeded what we would have considered previously, and we're seeing these fires grow larger and larger and more continuous," he said.