CBS News reports that warming temperatures caused by climate change are fueling mega-fires -- "forest infernos ten times bigger than the fires we're used to seeing." The article says large fires are becoming more common.
"A fire of this size and this intensity in this country would have been extremely rare 15, 20 years they're commonplace these days," Boatner says.
"Ten years ago, if you had a 100,000 acre fire, you were talking about a huge fire. And if we had one or two of those a year, that was probably unusual. Now we talk about 200,000 acre fires like it's just another day at the office. It's been a huge change," he says.
Asked what the biggest fires now are, Boatner says, "We've had, I believe, two fires this summer that have been over 500,000 acres, half a million acres, and one of those was over 600,000 acres."
"You wouldn't have expected to see this how recently?" Pelley asks.
"We got records going back to 1960 of the acres burned in America. So, that's 47 fire seasons. Seven of the 10 busiest fire seasons have been since 1999," Boatner says.
The drought conditions and the powerful Santa Ana winds have helped fuel the intense fires in Southern California. Some articles on the Santa Ana winds can be found here, here and here. The wind speeds of the Santa Ana winds pushing the SoCal fires is stronger then usual. You can read an earlier post about the drought conditions in the Southern California area or check the latest Drought Monitor map for California. You can find coverage of the California fires on BloggersBlog.com's 2007 California Wildfires section.