Californian firefighter warns of increase wildfires due to climate change

Californian firefighter warns of increase wildfires due to climate change

11 November 2009

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USA– Thom Porter, staff chief at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) talks about the changes he has witnessed in the Californian climate and how it is increasing the risk of forest fires in a video for Greenpeace.

During 2009 California wildfires have burned more than 336,020 acres of land since the beginning of July, destroying hundreds of buildings and causing millions of dollars worth of damage.

The Station Fire, north of Los Angeles, was the largest and deadliest of these wildfires this year, having laid waste to 160,577 acres, since it began in late August.

Two firefighters battling the fire were killed after their vehicle was overrun by flames. The fire itself was only was declared contained weeks ago.

Sporadic fires are normal throughout the state during the summer caused by a combination of high temperatures and low humidity which dries the plants making them ripe for wildfires.

However three years of drought amplified these effects. Thom Porter, staff chief at Cal Fire believes climate change is in a large part responsible for the increase in fires. “As a firefighter I’m a student of the weather and I’ve noticed that there is a change that has occurred over the last several years.

“These patterns are not what I’ve grown up with. They are also not what I’ve seen in the historical record. We are starting to see more monsoonal style weather which is causing more dry lightening which ignite fires”

He talks about the environmental changes and the potential ramifications for California in a video commissioned for Greenpeace.

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