On the heels of one of the worst droughts the state has ever experienced, California is bracing for another big challenge as summer approaches: wildfires. Thus far in 2014, the Wall Street Journal reports, fires have been breaking out in California at twice the normal rate, and firefighters are already on 24-hour rotations.
The whole southwest region of the U.S. is at greater risk this year, thanks to low rainfall. The entire state of Arizona is facing increased fire risk, as is much of California. And California’s problems may be worse, since the state has limited reservoir capacity and is experiencing cutbacks in both agricultural and domestic water use.
One mitigating factor, the Journal reports, is that the low grasses and brush that typically fuel fires are not as plentiful as in past years, due to the drought. The fuel that remains is drier than normal, but there is less of it.
Still, officials are warning that the “risk of destructive mega fires” is high, and they urge public to be vigilant.