California Facing Twice as Many Wildfires than Normal, Indicating Future Problems with the Drought

Photo by KFSB-TV

Photo by KFSB-TV

Summer is here and California is feeling the strain from the ongoing drought. The reminders have come in the form of a series of wildfires that have struck various parts of Southern California.

Through May, a total of 1,500 fires popped up all around the state of California. In the average year, the number of reported fires at this point would be 800. Nearly twice as many fires are happening now than what we would normally see.

Governor Jerry Brown believes that this is just the beginning. Summer has yet to begin, meaning that the hottest, driest months of the year are still ahead. He predicts many more fires during the summer.

“As we send billions and billions of tons of heat-trapping gases, we get heat and we get fires and we get what we’re seeing. So, we’ve got to gear up. We’re going to deal with nature as best we can, but humanity is on a collision course with nature and we’re just going to have to adapt to it in the best way we can.”

Governor Brown already made a pair announcements earlier in the year that California is in a state of drought. He has called upon Californians to conserve water as much as possible, ideally to the amount of a 20% reduction per household.

• Los Angeles County: The first major fire that hit California was the Colby Fire in January. It started in the Los Angeles National Forest, and after burning for over one week, had consumed over 2,000 acres of forest. The area, located above the city of Glendora, was already a red-flag advisory risk for fire. [1]

• San Bernardino County: The second major blaze was the Etiwanda Fire. This fire sparked in April in the San Bernardino National Forest, located right above the city of Rancho Cucamonga. The Etiwanda fire burned over 2,100 acres. [1]

• San Diego County: On May 13th, a series of fires broke out in San Diego County at roughly the same time. The Cocos Fire, which started just north of San Marcos, burned over 3,000 acres. Some of the other fires that burned during this same period in the San Diego area were:

  • The Pulgas Fire, which happened near Camp Pendleton, burned over 15,000 acres. Thus far, this was the largest fire in the country in 2014.
  • The Tomahawk Fire was the second largest, consuming over 6,000 acres.
  • While relatively small in size (600 acres) the Poinsettia Fire – located near Carlsbad – was destructive, doing over $22 million in property damage.

In particular, the conditions in San Diego were dry and windy enough to create a fire whirl, colloquially known as a “firenado.” Firenados occur when a combination of fire, extreme conditions and high swirling winds create a tornado effect where a column of fire can rise into the sky, sometimes reaching several hundred feet and lasting for up to 15 minutes.

The wildfires, fueled by dry conditions, high temperatures, low humidity and high winds are not likely to ease up until a significant amount of rainfall hits the region.
The combination of dry conditions and high heat will make for a rough summer for Californians. And as difficult as water conservation will be for homeowners, the state will end up in a tougher spot if fires become a problem, too.

That’s why so many homeowners in California, and across the country, are opting in for landscapes and yard solutions that incorporate artificial grass. According to the EPA, the average household in California uses close to 36,000 gallons of water each year for watering lawns and gardens.

That is a massive amount of water (and money!) that can be saved if homeowners are willing to consider the benefits of switching to artificial grass.

Check out our latest guide to learn just how much water (and money!) you can save by switching to artificial grass during the drought. And brace yourselves, California, we’re in for a long, hot summer.

Take a peek at the installation process with this DIY Easy Install Guide to get an idea of what you can expect.
Get Your Guide!
Posted on June 24, 2014