California faces year’s first wildfire just weeks after historically wet winter

LOS ANGELES: Firefighters on Friday combated the state’s first big wildfire of the year in wild foothills east of Los Angeles hardly five weeks after the last episode of hefty rain and snow in California’s historically wet winter.

According to the US Forest Service, the Nob fire has scorched some 200 acres of scrub and grass in the San Bernardino National Forest since flaring on Wednesday, with 25% of the blaze’s circumference held by Thursday night.

Agency spokesperson Lyn Sieliet said that the fire posed no immediate risk to populated parts as it burned abrupt terrain deep in the timbers. The cause of the fire was under probe.

The fire was slim compared with nightmare blazes that have become more regular and severe in recent years, scorching hundreds of thousands of acres, devastating whole neighbourhoods and causing mass evacuations.

Still, it marked the first blaze of the 2023 season measuring 100 acres or more, signalling the potential for extreme wildfire activity this summer and fall. Experts have warned that this winter’s bountiful rainfall prompted heavy growth of grass and scrub that will dry out by summer, leaving a larger, thicker fuel bed for wildfires.

The glut of precipitation, however, also has increased the moisture content in shrubs and trees, making them more flame-resistant in the short term and helping forestall the onset of the fire season.

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