California wildfire acreage down this year by 95 percent

Land mass burned in California thus far in 2019 has decreased by 95 percent from last year and 90 percent compared to the average over the past five years, according to Department of Forestry and Fire Protection statistics. [KTLA]

As of Sunday, Cal Fire has battled fires on 38 square miles this, down from an average of 416 square in 2014-2018. At this time last year, nearly 4,000 fires had burned more than 970 square miles.

The large amount of rain California received during a winter of near-record snowfall and temperatures that were cooler than average led to fewer fires.

The state has not dried out as quickly this year, and temperatures have not been as consistently hot, Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said. Cooler weather has followed hot spells, and winds have not been as strong.

A U.S. Drought Monitor map released last week only shows a tiny section of California listed as abnormally dry. One year ago, nearly the entire state fell in a range from abnormally dry to extreme drought.

The state statistics do not compare data on fires that burn on federal lands, which account for about 45 percent of California’s acreage. But, fires on U.S. Forest Service land have also declined this year. To date, only 41 square miles of national forest land have burned, down from 350 square miles at this time last year.

Last year, the worst fire year in state history, the most destructive fires occurred in the fall.