Thursday , June 13 2024

California’s Worsening Wildfire Conditions Putting Firefighters At Risk

September is over, and that used to signal the end of wildfire season. But as 2017’s massive Thomas Fire showed us, wildfires in California can rage on well into December. Meanwhile firefighting has gotten a lot more complicated; there’s drought to contend with, and housing development in fire-prone areas. Six California firefighters have been killed on the job so far this year. And it’s a number that isn’t falling, unlike in other parts of the country. Walking near Grant Grove in Sequoia National Park, it doesn’t take long to find clods of dead trees, some shriveled by bark beetles and others charred by the 2015 Rough Fire. As I head down a trail with park fire information officer Rebecca Paterson, we come across a blackened tree that’s fallen and blocked the trail. “We have an evidently burned snag that fell across the trail,” she says. “Standing dead trees, we call them snags.” Trees that are dead or damaged are unpredictable; erratic. They don’t fall the way living trees do. This

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