US Heat Wave Intensifies As Wildfire Rages In California

US Heat Wave Intensifies As Wildfire Rages In California
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While a massive fire devastated a portion of California, tens of millions of Americans already baking in a sweltering heat wave braced for record-breaking temperatures to rise on Sunday.

The worst of the country’s high heat is predicted to hit the central and northeastern regions on Sunday at the earliest, which has public health officials scurrying.

The intense heat has also raised the likelihood of fires like the large Oak Fire, which started on Friday in California close to Yosemite National Park and has already threatened enormous sequoia trees in recent days.

The Oak Fire — described as “explosive” by officials — went from 60 acres to more than 6,555 (2,650 hectares) in less than 24 hours. Concentrated in Mariposa County, it has already destroyed ten properties and damaged five others, with thousands more threatened.

Read Also: Portugal Faces Intense Forest Fires Amid Heatwave

As of midday Saturday, it was zero percent contained, according to California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The department said the fire’s activity was “extreme” and that emergency personnel were working to evacuate residents and protect structures.

More than 400 firefighters assisted by water-dropping helicopters are fighting the blaze, the department said, but the Los Angeles Times cited officials who said it could take a week to contain.

‘Explosive fire behavior is challenging firefighters,’ the department added on its website.

Climate scientist Daniel Swain tweeted that the fire was “exhibiting consistently extreme behavior,” while stunned social media users posted images of billowing plumes of smoke — with the LA Times reporting that the cloud reached up to 30,000 feet into the air.

In recent years, California and other parts of the western United States have been ravaged by huge, hot and fast-moving wildfires, driven by years of drought and a warming climate.

Evidence of global warming could be seen elsewhere also, as more than a dozen US states were under a heat advisory.

Central US metropolitan areas such as Dallas and Oklahoma City were expected to reach highs of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (above 38 degrees Celsius) for at least the next five days.

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