A wildfire in Santa Barbara, California, has more than tripled in size, growing from 1,200 acres on Thursday night to more than 4,000 acres today, according to Reuters. Dubbed the Scherpa Fire, the wildfire was “driven by strong winds as it roared down hillsides toward the Pacific Ocean in a wilderness area northwest of the coastal city of Santa Barbara,” Reuters reports.
Assuming the fire department can get the flames contained, the question then turns to future fires: Is there a chance these wildfires might become more common? That might very well be the case, Alisa Opar reported last year:
Wildfire seasons are nearly 20 percent longer today on average than they were 35 years ago, found a recent Nature Communications study. These long-winded burns are connected to changes in vapor pressure and the timing of snowmelt and spring rains — all of which have been linked to climate change. “Conditions across the U.S. are becoming more conducive to fires,” Matt Jolly, lead author of the study and a U.S. Forest Service scientist, told Climate Wire. “We may be moving into a new normal. If these trends persist, we are on track to see more fire activity and more burned area.”
This map below, courtesy of Graphiq, highlights how many acres were burned across the United States in 2015 alone:
Meanwhile, a blaze in New Mexico has forced a state of emergency.