Record-setting heat plagued much of southern California Friday, with temperatures touching as high as 117 degrees during the day. The unseasonably hot weather sparked a number of brush fires that swept across hundreds of acres of land and destroyed several homes.
The National Weather Service reported that at several locations in California saw new, all-time record-high temperatures. The National Weather Service said the weekend will likely be slightly less intolerably hot for residents of the region, but most of the southern part of the state will remain under an excessive heat warning well into the evening.
According to the Los Angeles Times, new record highs were set at the Van Nuys Airport (117 degrees) and Burbank Airport (114), as well as in the cities of Santa Ana (114) and Ramona (115). Daily records were also topped in downtown Los Angeles (95 degrees) and Woodland Hills (115). Coastal cities of Camarillo (92 degrees) and Oxnard (86) also experienced new daily record high temperatures.
Those unwieldy conditions weren’t just tough on the citizens of the region, but also for the environment. Per the LA Times, a brush fire broke out in the San Bernardino National Forest that quickly spread and forced residents of the Forest Falls area to flee from their homes. The fire encompassed more than 200 acres and was “out of control” near Interstate 8, burning traffic medians alongside the stretch of road.
The roaring fires forced “hundreds” of people from their homes, according to the Los Angeles Times, and at least one dozen buildings were destroyed in its blaze. It is believed that several of those structures were homes, but officials did not have an official tally on what was lost. Firefighters also worked to stomp out several smaller fires that sparked in Angeles National Forest, Montecito Heights, Sylmar, and Pacoima.
It seems likely those won’t be the last to occur from the current heat wave. KABC-TV in Los Angeles reported the National Weather Service has issued “red flag” warnings for the Los Angeles County Mountains, Angeles National Forest, Ventura County mountains, and Los Padres National Forest until 6pm local time Saturday. The alerts signify an increased risk of fire danger in the regions, some of which are also under wind advisories until Saturday morning.
The heat-induced brush fires are just the latest incidents in California’s seemingly endless state of being on fire. Even before the record-breaking temperatures started bearing down on SoCal, wildfires were doing a number to the northern part of the state.
Late last year, raging wildfires wreaked havoc on southern California, forcing the evacuation of more than 230,000 people while destroying hundreds of homes and torching more than 80,000 acres of land in its path. Brush fires in the Los Angeles area two years ago destroyed more than 22,000 acres of land and gave the city sky an apocalyptic look, while sand fires the same year pushed thousands from their homes.
If the last few years—and what we know about likely effects of climate change—are any indication, things are likely only going to get worse from here.