Two fires broke out on Monday near Los Angeles in the midst of sweltering heat on the first day of summer, forcing local residents to evacuate and sending billowing clouds of grey smoke into the clear blue skies above the city.
The fires erupted in the Angeles National Forest. The first fire, which is being called the Reservoir Fire, broke out near a roadside in Azusa. NBC Los Angeles reports: “The first fire erupted around 11:15 a.m. on Highway 39 near the Morris Reservoir dam north of Azusa, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The fire is believed to have been started by a vehicle that went off the road.” The fire spread rapidly to 300 acres in the dry heat, taking advantage of drought conditions and parched vegetation. The second fire broke out near an intersection in nearby Duarte, and spread to 400 acres. Had there been high winds blowing, as has been the case in many past fires, the blazes would likely have spread even more rapidly.
The high temperature for the Azusa area has been predicted as 114 degrees Fahrenheit. Officials had warned that conditions were ripe for a devastating fire season, with many trees vulnerable because of the drought. In the high country, many trees are tinged orange, thanks to bark beetles that have spread more rapidly than usual thanks to five years of limited precipitation.
San Francisco Bay Area public radio station KQED reported early Monday that there are a staggering number of dead trees in California’s forests. Conservative Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) said that the Obama administration has bowed to environmental interests and prevented loggers from removing some of the dead trees, leaving the forests more vulnerable.
On Saturday, President Barack Obama visited the Yosemite National Park and declared that climate change was responsible for increased fires in California. However, that claim has been debunked by scientists, including those who otherwise see climate change as an urgent crisis. In the past, they have called such claims “noble-cause corruption” of science.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, will be published by Regnery on July 25 and is available for pre-order through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.