Fires

The Thomas fire is terrifying. Fire trends are even more terrifying

The Thomas fire is terrifying. Fire trends are even more terrifying

In the two weeks since it ignited, the Thomas fire has burned nearly 250,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and become the fourth-largest fire on record in California. On Thursday, it killed a firefighter. But as frightening as this beast of a blaze really is, the overall trends look even worse.

Prior to 1995, the United States averaged one “mega-fire” a year, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which gives that title to blazes that burn more than 100,000 acres. During the last decade, California has met that old average all by itself, while the United States as a whole is now experiencing nearly 10 such fires annually. Researchers predict that, by the middle of...

EDITION: California | U.S. & World
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