Noah Berger / Reuters

California governor warns of more wildfires

Gov. Jerry Brown links wildfires to climate change as two blazes consume ever-larger swathes of Northern California

California Gov. Jerry Brown said late on Monday that climate change would continue to worsen fire conditions as a wildfire ranked as the most destructive to hit the drought-stricken West this year blackened 62,000 acres and was only about 10 percent contained.

“These are serious fires,” said Brown who authorized an additional $12.4 million for firefighting on Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times. “There is more to come.”

State fire officials echoed the governor.

“We don’t see an end to fire season for months to come,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott, according to the Sacramento Bee

Some 11,000 firefighters were battling 12 major blazes across California as of late Monday. California has seen about 6,000 wildfires this year — about 1,500 more than this time last year, an increase many blame on the extra-dry condition caused by the state's record-breaking drought, itself a product of climate change.

The two new fires getting the most attention — the Butte fire burning in Amador and Calaveras counties and the Valley fire in Lake County — have been unusually unpredictable and staggeringly destructive.

As of late Monday night, according to the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) the Butte Fire had burned 71,523 acres, displaced 10,000 people, threatened 6,400 structures, destroyed 166 homes and 116 outbuildings, and caused the evacuation of 6,000 homes.  It was 35 percent contained by 4,596 firefighters, or 82 crews, using 505 fire engines, eight air tankers and 18 helicopters.

The deadly Valley Fire had burned 62,000 acres, displaced 13,000 people, threatened 9,000 structures, destroyed 585 homes, injured four firefighters and charred Harbin Hot Springs, a well-known, clothing-optional New Age retreat in Lake County. It was 10 percent contained by 1, 795 firefighters, or 43 crews, using 183 fire engines, three air tankers and seven helicopters. The fire has killed at least one person, an elderly, disabled woman unable to escape her home on Saturday.

Brown suggested Barbara McWilliams, who had advanced multiple sclerosis, might not be the last, according to CNN.

"These fires will take lives. And they will cause injuries," Brown said, according to CNN. "We have to do the best we can because we are really in a battle with nature. (And) nature is more powerful than we are."

Al Jazeera with wire services

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