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Thousands evacuate in face of emergency as monstrous fire surges out of control: 'It's going to be a challenge both day and night'

The fire has injured at least eight people.

The fire has injured at least eight people.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Thompson Fire in northern California destroyed over a dozen homes and burned almost 4,000 acres before being recently contained. Firefighters fought the blaze since it erupted in early July and forced as many as 28,000 people to evacuate.  

What's happening?

More than 1,400 firefighters and personnel from across California battled the blaze, the Guardian reported. The Thompson Fire injured at least eight people and destroyed over two dozen structures in or near the town of Oroville, a city roughly 70 miles north of Sacramento that is home to just over 20,000 people. By July 8, it had been fully contained and transitioned to "patrol status," according to Cal Fire.

Extreme heat made it difficult for those trying to contain the massive fire. An excessive heat warning was issued for northern California, where temperatures were forecast to soar to between 105 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. "It's going to be a challenge both day and night — so the message is prevention," said Nick Shuler, the Cal Fire deputy director, per the Guardian report on July 3.

California's governor declared a state of emergency for the area to ensure resources were available to suppress and contain the blaze. The Thompson Fire is one of several wildfires in California in early July. So far this year, as of July 10, more than 3,500 wildland fires have burned over 207,000 acres with over 2,250 structure fires across the state. 

Why is the Thompson wildfire important?

Several studies have shown that our warming world is extending the wildfire season, increasing wildfire frequency, and burning more acres. A study published this year in Nature found extreme wildfires have doubled in frequency and magnitude over the past 20 years. The study also noted that the past seven years have seen the six most extreme wildfires of the past 21 years.

Last year was not only the warmest on record for Earth, but many parts of our planet experienced record-breaking wildfire activity. Canada had its most destructive season on record in 2023. The Lāhainā fire on Maui in Hawaii was the worst natural disaster in the state's history, with more than 100 deaths.

What's being done about the increasing number of wildfires?

The increase in the amount of heat-trapping gases released into our atmosphere is warming our planet and raising the risk of more frequent and intense wildfires in the future. More wildfires mean more carbon dioxide released into the air, further adding to our planet's fever in a positive feedback loop.

Shifting from dirty energy to clean sources is vital to help mitigate the effects of a warming world on wildfires. Advances in technology offer hope.

Scientists have recently announced breakthroughs with batteries that could make electric vehicles cheaper, safer, and more sustainable. Researchers have also revealed a breakthrough with heat pumps, the most environmentally friendly home heating and cooling method.

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