California wildfires have set a new record by destroying more than 4 million acres, officials announced Sunday.
The previous record for the most land destroyed by a wildfire in a single year was less than half of the new record, the Associated Press reported. The last record was 1.67 million acres burned during 2018. The 4 million acres that have been burned so far this year is an area larger than the state of Connecticut.
Scott McLean, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), called the 4 million acres in damage “unfathomable.”
“It boggles the mind, and it takes your breath away,” McLean said according to the report. “And that number will grow.”
Cal Fire said in a Sunday statement that so far this year, 31 people have been killed and more than 8,400 buildings have been destroyed in the more than 8,200 wildfires that have ravaged through California. (RELATED: California’s Wildfires Have Burned Enough Carbon To Power Roughly 23 Coal Plants For One Year, Estimates Show)
“Since CAL FIRE officially began recording state responsibility fire figures in 1933, all large fire years have remained well below the 4 million acre mark for acreage burned, until now,” Cal Fire said in a Sunday Tweet. “This year is far from over and fire potential remains high. Please be cautious outdoors.”
Since CAL FIRE officially began recording state responsibility fire figures in 1933, all large fire years have remained well below the 4 million acre mark for acreage burned, until now. This year is far from over and fire potential remains high. Please be cautious outdoors. pic.twitter.com/IkwjSqEeVo
— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) October 4, 2020
Fires have also devastated Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Photos emerged in mid-September showing that Oregon’s sky had turned bright red due to the fires.
Former Vice President Joe Biden blamed climate change for the large blazes, and attacked President Trump as a “climate arsonist.”
“If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires?” Biden said in September. “If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more America ablaze?”
When discussing climate change’s role in the wildfires, the president has suggested that he doesn’t believe that there is a scientific consensus, but agreed with California Gov. Gavin Newsom to “respect … the difference of opinion out here as it relates to this fundamental issue on the issue of climate change.”