Aug 10, 2015

Veteran Firefighter: Rocky Fire Has 'Most Extreme Fire Behavior I've Ever Seen'

Wilbur Springs, CA
USA
by
Kirk Siegler
,
NPR
A firefighter monitors flames from the Rocky Fire as it approaches a home late last month. The wildfire has consumed thousands of acres in just over a week. Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A firefighter monitors flames from the Rocky Fire as it approaches a home late last month. The wildfire has consumed thousands of acres in just over a week. Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Every time firefighter Gary Mahlberg sets his boot down, a sooty cloud of dust shoots up. He says he's never before encountered a wildfire this intense or hard to predict. "In the 26 years I've been in the fire service, this is the most extreme fire behavior I've ever seen," Mahlberg says..."Things are just so much more drier now," he says. "They're igniting a lot more easily than they have in the past." Four years of drought coupled with record heat is stressing these trees and shrubs. Moisture content is at record lows. Touring the destruction this week, California Gov. Jerry Brown pointed to climate change, calling the Rocky Fire an unfortunate "new normal" for the state and the West in general.