Heat wave in the United States: an “explosive” fire spreads near Yosemite”

INTERNATIONAL – A wave of “extreme heat” has hit tens of millions of Americans this weekend, with more record temperatures expected in the center and northeast and a wildfire spreading terribly in California .

The “Oak Fire”, described as “explosive” by authorities, broke out on Friday, July 22 in Mariposa County, near Yosemite National Park and its giant sequoias. It has moved about 4,800 acres, destroyed ten properties and damaged five others, according to a bulletin Saturday from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Several roads were cut off and several areas were ordered to be evacuated, while the fire, in “intense activity” and fought by more than 500 firefighters, was not controlled on Saturday, according to the same source.

Officials quoted by the Los Angeles Times newspaper estimated that it would probably take a week to forget about it.

More than 6,000 people have been evacuated, according to a spokesman for the California fire department, adding that employees from various departments have flocked from across the state to lend a hand.

State of emergency declared

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a “state of emergency” on Saturday in Mariposa County, due to a situation of “grave danger to the safety of life and property”. This allows especially for the release of funds.

According to a climatologist from the University of California in Los Angeles, Daniel Swain, the fire “spread in almost all directions”, “in a context of high fuel load and severe drought”. “The series of relatively small, harmless fires that have plagued California so far appears to have come to an end,” he added on Twitter.

The American West has experienced wildfires of unprecedented size and intensity in recent years, with a marked extension of the fire season, a phenomenon scientists attribute to climate change.

Nationwide heat wave

This fire is one of the most dramatic consequences of the heat wave that affected the United States this weekend, in a local area between California and Oregon in the west but more in the center and northeast.

If the temperature in these two regions is expected to rise on Sunday at the earliest, the stifling heat is already felt in the capital Washington DC, where the temperature flirts with the symbolic bar of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). A threshold that should be reached or exceeded on Sunday for the first time in years. New York was not spared, with temperatures nearing 35 degrees.

The heat wave has already led to an increase in the number of calls to emergency services for discomfort related to high temperatures. “Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States. It’s more than any other environmental-related cause of death,” Joseph Kralicek, director of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s emergency management agency, told CNN.

Climate change is here

This week, US President Joe Biden reiterated the “clear and urgent danger” posed by climate change, “an existential threat to our country and the world”. But its room for maneuver is limited by Congress and the Supreme Court.

The planet has already recorded many heat waves this year, such as in July in Western Europe or in India in March-April. Their proliferation is an unmistakable sign of climate change, according to scientists.

In June 2021, a rare “heat dome” destroyed the west coast of the United States and Canada, killing more than 500 people and causing huge fires, with temperatures approaching 50 degrees.

See also at The HuffPost: Gironde Fires: Macron promises “a major reconstruction project” in the forest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.