The year may be nearly over, but Southern California’s wildfires are not. The Bond Fire, ignited Wednesday and whipped into a raging inferno by hurricane-force Santa Ana winds, burned 7,200 acres and was 0% contained as of Thursday evening. At least 25,000 people in Orange County were initially ordered to evacuate. Climate change makes wildfires more extreme as increased temperatures dry out vegetation. Those effects are on display as temperatures climbed higher than anywhere else in the continental US with widespread humidity as low as 4%. The conditions are creating a veritable tinderbox that is extremely vulnerable to fire as winds as strong as 95 mph in the mountains and 50-60 mph at lower elevations threaten to carry burning embers as far as three miles.
The extreme conditions prompted the National Weather Service to issue a rare “particularly dangerous situation” red-flag warning for the Santa Clarita Valley and the mountains in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. In Riverside County, just east of the Bond Fire, the Airport and Cerritos Fires have burned a combined nearly-1,000 acres with less than 25% containment as of Thursday. (Washington Post $, CNN, AP, CBS, KCAL, KABC, LA Times, LAist; Climate Signals background: Wildfires; 2020 Western wildfire season)