The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 12, 2013

Wildfires burn less land than average this year


A state report released this month faulted the Arizona State Forestry Division’s management of the fire, concluding that the firefighters were the victims of poor planning and bad communication. The agency faces a $559,000 fine.

In mid-August, a hunter’s illegal campfire started the $127 million Rim Fire, which cut across a large swath of the Stanislaus National Forest before burning into a corner of Yosemite National Park. At 257,314 acres, or 402 square miles, the Rim represents 45 percent of California’s charred acreage, according to statistics compiled by the national fire center.

While the amount of burned land was a bit below average, the number of wildfires in California was nearly 50 percent greater than the 2003-2012 norm.

“We’re fortunate that we did not have more extreme wind events that would have allowed the fires to burn much quicker and char even more acres,” said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Kelly Redmond, regional climatologist at the Western Region Climate Center in Reno, Nev., said scientists can’t really say why the hot, dry Santa Ana winds from the interior, which have historically fanned Southern California’s most destructive blazes, are active some years and quiet others.

“It’s been really hard to tie to anything in the large-scale climate,” he said. This year is “just one of those no-winds situations.”


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