To say it’s been a busy week for CalFire firefighters would be a bit of an understatement.
As of Tuesday, spokesman Daniel Berlant said the state’s firefighters have battled more than 290 new wildfires in California in one week, with the largest being the Erskine Fire near Lake Isabella, north of Bakersfield. It's considered the most destructive fire in Kern County history, and Gov. Jerry Brown issued a state of emergency to help the county quickly get financial aid.
As of Tuesday, that fire had charred 46,679 acres and was 45 percent contained thanks to the efforts of 1,808 fire crews. At least 200 homes have been lost because of the flames, and two people, an elderly couple, died – the same number who died in last year’s Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties, considered the state’s 20th deadliest fire in history.
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Berlant expects to have the Erskine Fire fully contained by Thursday, one week after it started.
But even though that sounds like a lot, CalFire is not as busy as last year.
Over six months, from Jan. 1 to June 25, 2,017 fires have raged through California, according to CalFire statistics. During the same time period in 2015, there were about 200 more, or 2,217.
Still, the persistent drought and subsequent number of dead trees – now estimated to be 66 million in the Sierra since 2010 –have indeed created more havoc for crews in their typical summer firefighting season.
The five-year average has typically been 1,960 fires during the same six-month interval.