Grim western fire season starts much drier than record 2020

California

In this Sept. 9, 2020, file photo, flames lick above vehicles on Highway 162 as the Bear Fire burns in Oroville, Calif. Scientists say the outlook for the western U.S. fire season is grim because it’s starting far drier than 2020’s record-breaking fire year.(AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

SAN DIEGO — Scientists say the outlook for the western U.S. fire season is grim because it’s starting far drier than 2020’s record-breaking fire year.

Measurements show soil and plants are much drier, making trees and brush more likely to ignite and fire to spread. A megadrought fueled by climate change is part of the problem.

From the Rockies westward, April was the second driest on record. Now more than 77% of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico is in either extreme or exceptional drought. Juniper trees are dying, and fire officials say their canopies of dead needles are like having gasoline out in the national forests.

Gov. Gavin Newsom was slated to highlight new firefighting equipment and his proposed $2 billion investment in wildfire and emergency preparedness at a noon news conference on Monday.

His office said the investments will enable the state to take urgent action to support wildfire suppression, improve forest health and build resilience in communities to help protect residents and property from catastrophic wildfires.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trademark and Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Most Popular Stories

Latest News

More News