The Caldor fire in California and the Greenwood Lake fire in Minnesota are fueled by climate change, a new report concludes.
Huge wildfires in California and Minnesota are forcing tourists to change plans at two US vacation spots, as a new study blames climate change for creating the conditions fueling the massive fires.
The wildfire has already destroyed hundreds of homes and is advancing towards resort towns on Lake Tahoe as thousands of firefighters attempted to ignite. On Wednesday, the Caldor fire was less than 20 miles east of the lake that straddles the California-Nevada border.
The Caldor fire in California is “knocking on the door” of the Lake Tahoe Basin, State Fire Chief Thom Porter said this week, raining ash and forcing tourists inside to avoid the fire. unhealthy air.
The blaze has burned more than 510 square kilometers (197 square miles) and destroyed at least 461 homes since August 14 in the Sierra Nevada southwest of the lake. It was 11% contained and threatened more than 17,000 structures.
Although no evacuations were ordered for Lake Tahoe, it was impossible to ignore a blanket of haze so thick and extensive that it closed schools for a second day in Reno, Nevada, at around 100 km (60 miles) from the fire.
Meanwhile, US Forest Service officials have extended the closure of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, as Minnesota’s largest wildfire has doubled in size.
The Greenwood Lake fire in the Upper National Forest in northeast Minnesota reached about 77 kmÂ² (30 square miles) on Monday, and four new, smaller fires ignited in the BWCA.
Authorities have decided to keep the popular forest closed for another week, until September 3, dealing a blow to tourists who have spent months planning their trips there and to outfitters and other businesses in the wilderness of a million acres.
Several lightning-caused fires have burned through the wild during this summer’s drought conditions, while the Greenwood Lake fire has forced the evacuation of around 280 homes and cottages since it was spotted on August 15 about 24 km (15 miles) southwest of the town of Isabella.
Climate change as the culprit
The effects of climate change have fueled more forest fires in the past 30 years, scientists say, as hotter and drier conditions will continue to make weather conditions more extreme and forest fires more destructive.
“Climate change is causing temperatures to rise, and this temperature rise is causing a serious drying trend in the west,” said Kaitlyn Weber, a data analyst whose group, Climate Central, released a report this week. on climate change and fires. .
“This greatly increases the risk of more serious forest fires,” Weber told Reuters news agency.
Climatologist Michael Wehner said such increases in fire risk were not limited to the western United States, with countries like Greece, Turkey, Spain and France now experiencing back-to-back seasons of damaging fires.
U.S. states further east could also find themselves at increasing risk, said Wehner, one of the lead authors of an August report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The Greenwood, Minnesota fire, for example, has charred nearly 8,100 hectares (20,000 acres) in the past 10 days.
âI would expect there to be an increased risk of fire across mid-latitudes,â Wehner said. “Dry climates are always more at risk for this stuff, but you can have wildfires in the eastern United States.”
Weber, of Climate Central, said that as climate change results in higher temperatures in many states, fires are also becoming a risk in more and more places.
The report is “kind of a warning sign that we really need to pay attention to it,” she said.