But Newsom began with an even larger disaster, emphasizing that, “Average temperatures in the summer months have increased 3 degrees” over the past three decades. “That may not seem like a lot,” said the governor, but it is directly, causally related to the fires the state is now battling.
There are no Democratic thermometers or Republican thermometers.
The fact is — our average temperature has increased over the last 40 years.
We’re experiencing record temperatures across CA. The hottest August on record.
The evidence of climate change is all around us. pic.twitter.com/lAeCoDKvxQ
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) September 16, 2020
The governor then announced some staggering news about the state’s largest fire, the August Complex Fire. Newsom said it had metastasized form 356,000 acres last week to 817,000 acres as of Wednesday morning. That update was an increase of more than 20,000 acres over the 794,801 acres reported by Cal Fire at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Containment of the blaze’s most active area, the West Zone, was still at 0% with conditions Wednesday expected to be much like Tuesday. That means low humidity and conditions “allowing the fire to remain active,” according to Cal Fire.
— CAL FIRE Mendocino (@CALFIRE_MEU) September 16, 2020
The governor emphasized that, at this time last year 152,000 acres had burned. In 2020 thus far, Califonria has seen 3.37 million acres scorched by wildfires. Even more alarming, the state had seen 2.8 million acres blackened in just the past month.
Updating on some of the other fires, Newsom said the Creek Fire, which stands at 220,000 acres is “impacted by the historic drought” that ended in 2017. Millions of trees he said, weakened by drought and killed by beetles, were explosive kindling for the Creek Fire.
“If you were ever in doubt about climate change,” said Newsom, “just take a look at the CZU fire. This is in what they refer to as an ‘asbestos forrest.'” By that, he meant the forest was contained many fire-tolerant redwoods and was situated in a coastal and cool environment. Nevertheless, he said, the CZU Complex Fire has burned nearly 90,000 acres.
Firefighters continued battling the 44,393-acre Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest on Wednesday after successfully protecting the Mount Wilson Observatory and nearby broadcast towers valued at more than $1 billion from approaching flames.
“We all recognize our mutual responsibility…at better vegetation management,” said Newsom. He reminded listeners that California had recently entered “a partnership with the U.S. forest service to set controlled burns” and double the amount of vegetation cleared in the state.