California Blazes Are Part Of A Larger And Hotter Picture, Fire Researchers Say

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The speed and ferocity of the wildfires raging through Northern California's wine country have caught many residents off guard and left state officials scrambling to contain the flames. But for fire researchers, these devastating blazes are part of a much larger pattern unfolding across the Western United States. So far this year, fires in the U.S. have consumed more than 8.5 million acres — an area bigger than the state of Maryland. "We're definitely pushing one of the largest fire years this decade," says Jennifer Balch , a fire ecologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The cause is hot, dry conditions nationwide. Heat records have been broken this year in California, Oregon and Montana. Globally, 2017 is among the hottest years on record...

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