Monday morning, the fire baptized
Oak Fire was only 10% contained. 24 hours later, this proportion reached 26%.
This rapid progress was made possible by the massive mobilization of nearly 3,000 firefighters and 24 water-bombing helicopters, as well as a slight improvement in the humidity level, which should increase further in the coming days.
The forest fire broke out on Friday near the small town of Midpines and covered more than 7,000 hectares, spreading at full speed due in part to an extremely dry atmosphere and vegetation.
Jonathan Pierce, a spokesman for the fire department, highlighted the role of the
high “mortality” of trees in Mariposa County, so lots of standing dead trees, lots of dead trees that are on the ground and serve as fuel for the flames.
The Oak Fire destroyed about 40 buildings and threatened several thousand homes in small rural towns in Mariposa County, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
Within days, it became California’s biggest wildfire of the season.
The efforts of firefighters could be helped in the coming days by the arrival of the fire in an area already devastated in 2018 by another forest fire.
If it reaches this area,
it will slow down a bit, because there will be less fuel thereexplained Jonathan Pierce.
All the vegetation that will have grown back will be much less dense than if nothing had burned.
Yosemite National Park, near the Oak Fire, had suffered a fire in mid-July, the flames of which had once threatened giant sequoias. These trees, for some millennia, have been generally preserved thanks in particular to controlled fires carried out for decades in these groves to reduce the fuel on the ground.
The American West has experienced wildfires of exceptional magnitude and intensity in recent years, with a very marked lengthening of the fire season, a phenomenon that scientists attribute mainly to climate change.