California has a wildfire season every year, but 2020 has been particularly brutal.

According to CAL FIRE, over 8,500 wildfires have burned well over 4.1 million acres in the state this year, and more than 9,200 structures have been destroyed. There have been 32 fatalities, including one firefighter.

And it’s not over.

CAL FIRE reports “late (Wednesday) night, a new fire erupted near Redlands in San Bernardino County, quickly growing to 100 acres; however, firefighters across the State responded to 26 other new wildfires that were quickly contained.”

“A Red Flag Warning remains in effect for many parts of Northern California and now a Fire Weather Watch has been issued for the mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, the Santa Clarita Valley, Inland Empire and Northern San Diego County due to critical fire weather. Gusty winds, low humidity and unseasonably warm temperatures will continue into much of Friday. In preparation of the fire weather, CAL FIRE has increased staffing.”

“While good progress has been made on a number of fires, this could hamper containment efforts,” Cal Fire assistant deputy director Daniel Berland said in a briefing on Tuesday. “It means if a new fire breaks out, that fire is going to be able to burn very rapidly.”

On Monday, Berland had warned, “By midweek, we’re actually expecting the wind to increase and the humidity to decrease, and so that trend is actually going to elevate fire risk across much of Northern California.”

Nearly 9,000 firefighters are on the frontlines, battling 12 major and 8 other large wildfires/complexes in California.

According to CAL FIRE’s Twitter feed, total resources in the battle include nearly 500 fire engines, 73 assigned aircraft, 209 fire crews, 147 bulldozers and 216 water tenders.

Virtually all the damage has occurred since mid-August, when five of the six largest fires in state history erupted. Lightning strikes caused some of the most devastating blazes, with many burning in largely unpopulated land.

While California’s firefighters battle the blazes across the state, their role in protecting the safety and security of the population goes far beyond the flames.

Per the official CAL FIRE website, “Beyond its wildland firefighting role, CAL FIRE is an “all-risk” department. It may very well be a CAL FIRE engine and crew that is dispatched to the scene of an auto accident, or to a home where a child has become the victim of a drowning incident. The Department is always ready to respond – medical aids; hazardous material spills; swift water rescues; search and rescue missions; civil disturbances; train wrecks; floods, earthquakes and more.”

“Because of the Department’s size and major incident management experience, it is often asked to assist or take the lead in disasters, including the Northern and Central California floods of 1997, 1998, and 2006; the 1991 Cantara train derailment and toxic spill; 1994 Northridge earthquake; 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake; the 1991 Tunnel Fire in the Oakland/Berkeley Hills; and the 2003 Southern California Fire Siege.”

Fall is typically the peak season for wildfires bringing increased danger for those battling on the front lines. We pray for their safe return to their families.

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