Hundreds of firefighters in California and Arizona are battling multiple wildfires where a record-breaking heatwave could further raise the threat in a region still recovering from last year’s blazes. Temperatures have already reached triple digits with an excessive heat watch in effect until Thursday.
“If you think it’s hot this weekend, wait until the middle of next week,” the National Weather Service in Phoenix tweeted. “Widespread highs near 110 degrees at lower elevations.”
There have been almost 240 wildfires in California over the past week, resulting in one evacuation and two power shut-offs while firefighters and utility companies attempt to prevent another catastrophe. In Yolo County, CA, 125 people were evacuated Sunday because of the 2,512-acre Sand Fire, according to Will Powers of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection or CalFire. The fire started Saturday and exploded overnight. CalFire says over 625 fire personnel are working to contain the wildland brush fire as of Sunday night. The Sand Fire has burned seven non-residential buildings and resulted in multiple road closures, Powers said. The fire is currently 70% contained.
California isn’t the only western state suffering from wildfires. Arizona has already seen multiple fires including the Mountain Fire, which has burned nearly 7,500 acres. The Mountain Fire, which is burning in the Tonto National Forest northeast of Phoenix, is at 50% containment as of Sunday night. The fire started Friday morning and quickly tore through desert grass and brush causing road closures.
Wildfires have also prompted utility companies like PG&E to shut down power at certain points during the high risk.
Since the start of the year, 1,349 wildfires in California have burned 12,247 acres of land, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire. Of those fires, 178 have been on federal land.
The number of wildfires so far this year is still less than the amount CalFire saw by this time in 2018, reports Time. Not including federal land, there were 1,921 wildfires this time last year, burning through 15,220 acres.