Northern California Faces Risk of New Fires

A red flag warning was issued for a large swath of the state while firefighters continue to battle both the Dixie and Caldor fires.,


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Dry weather and high winds raise the risk of new fires in Northern California today.

Firefighters battling the Dixie fire near Herlong Junction, Calif., last week.
Firefighters battling the Dixie fire near Herlong Junction, Calif., last week.Credit…Christian Monterrosa for The New York Times
  • Sept. 10, 2021, 6:19 a.m. ET

Exceptionally dry conditions in Sacramento and other parts of Northern California were expected to complicate firefighters’ efforts on Friday as they battle about a dozen major wildfires across the state.

A red flag warning — indicating that the combination of warm temperatures, very low humidity and strong winds could spark new fires — was issued for the Sacramento region and areas east toward the California-Nevada state line until 11 p.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Areas east and south of San Francisco were also included in the warning.

“Fire safety precautions should be exercised to prevent additional fires,” the Weather Service said, adding that fires could also start from lightning.

By early Friday, light rain showers and thunderstorms were moving across Northern California, the Weather Service said.

About 100 miles east of Sacramento, the Caldor fire remained a threat, having consumed about 219,000 acres while being only 53 percent contained, according to a New York Times wildfire tracker. The cause of that blaze, which started almost a month ago, remains under investigation.

Thousands of residents have been forced to flee, and more than 780 homes have been destroyed since the blaze started. Late last month, officials said the Caldor fire had become the state’s top priority.

Farther north, where a red flag warning was also in place, the expanding Dixie fire prompted more evacuations on Thursday, when the fire jumped Highway 44 and reached just outside of Old Station, a small town in Shasta County.

The Dixie fire, now the second largest in state history, has burned more than 950,000 acres in two months and is 59 percent contained. More than 720 homes have been destroyed.

Over time, the link between climate change and wildfires across California has become clear. After two years of drought, the soil moisture is depleted, drying out vegetation and making it more prone too combustion.

Cal Fire, the state’s firefighting agency, said on Thursday that more than 14,600 firefighters were assigned to 13 active large wildfires. More than 2.1 million acres have been burned statewide, the agency said, adding that state, local, tribal and federal resources were being used to fight the blazes.

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