SOURCE: The Guardian

DATE: September 7, 2020

SNIP: Wildfires have burned more than 2m acres (809,000 hectares) in California this year, setting a state record even as crews battled dozens of growing blazes in sweltering temperatures Monday that strained the electrical grid and threatened power outages for millions.

The previous high was 1.96m acres (793,184 hectares) burned in 2018. the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, began tracking the numbers in 1987.

Lynne Tolmachoff, spokeswoman for Cal Fire, said the most striking thing about the record was how early it was set, with the most dangerous part of the year ahead.

“It’s a little unnerving because September and October are historically our worst months for fires,” she said. “It’s usually hot, and the fuels really dry out. And we see more of our wind events.”

Firefighters struggled to corral several dangerous blazes ahead of dry, hot winds predicted to raise fire danger to critical levels in the coming days. Evacuation orders were expanded to more mountain communities as the largest blaze, the Creek Fire, churned through the Sierra National Forest.

Record-breaking temperatures were driving the highest power use of the year, and transmission losses because of wildfires have cut into supplies.