Drought Leads to Severe Fire Season

California 2014 Drought

View of the severity of California’s drought. Image couresty of USDA Drought Monitor.

Northern California received another round of intense wildfire activity this week as drought conditions continued to increase on the west coast. This is currently one of the most severe droughts on record for the state.

The El Portal Fire began last Saturday as the result of a vehicle driving through dry vegetation, according to state officials. Over 4,000 acres have burned so far, the communities of El Portal and Foresta near Yosemite National Park completely evacuated. The fire sits in extremely remote and steep terrain, leading to at least three crew injuries so far and limiting suppression to mostly hand crews.

El Portal Fire

El Portal Fire. Photo via InciWeb.

Thursday saw some improved weather conditions, allowing the 1,194 firefighters on site to gain ground on the fire and increase containment to 58%. The evacuation order for at least the community of Foresta is expected to be lifted on Friday, August 1, according to InciWeb. However, humidity in the area has continued to remain low through the late hours of the day, extending the fire’s burn period and making mop up operations more difficult.

“We’re in the third consecutive year of drought in [Yosemite] Park, and so we’ve got some very dry fuel,” Yosemite National Park spokeswoman Ashley Mayer said on Wednesday.

Current information on the El Portal fire can be found at InciWeb. Updates on the relationship between the fire and Yosemite National Park can be found via the National Park Service.

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