California firefighters are battling the state’s first major wildfire of the year, less than five weeks after the last episode of heavy rain and snow in the historically wet winter. The blaze, dubbed the Nob Fire, has burned around 200 acres of scrub and grass in the San Bernardino National Forest since it flared up on Wednesday.
The US Forest Service reported on Thursday night that firefighters had managed to hold 25% of the fire’s circumference. While the fire is burning in an area with no immediate risk to populated parts, the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
This wildfire, which is relatively small compared to previous nightmare blazes, has set a warning of potential extreme wildfire activity this summer and fall. Experts have raised concerns that the bountiful rainfall this winter has led to heavy growth of grass and scrub that will dry out by summer, creating a larger, thicker fuel bed for wildfires.
However, the wet winter has also increased the moisture content in shrubs and trees, making them more flame-resistant in the short term and helping to delay the onset of the fire season.
By April 2022, California had already experienced over a dozen major wildfires, just three years into a crippling drought, according to the Los Angeles Times, citing data from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The latest wildfire in San Bernardino County comes as low-lying communities in central California brace for possible floods from the rapid runoff of melting snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The warming trend that is hastening the spring thaw is following a spate of Pacific storms that pummeled California with torrential rains and mountain snow from late December until late March.