In 2021, California issued warnings about potentially catastrophic wildfires as a result of widespread drought and lack of moisture.

Burning wood representing California wildfires in 2021

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), by the end of the year, there were a total of 8,835 fires, which burned 2,568,948 acres across the state.

Two civilians and seven firefighters were injured, and there were 3 confirmed fatalities. Moreover, there were 3, 629 structures damaged or destroyed, a mix of commercial and residential property, as well as other farm buildings.

California was facing “unprecedented fire conditions” on the 18th of August 2021, as several fires including the Caldor Fire, McFarland Fire, Dixie Fire, and others kept burning.

To alleviate the effect of potential fires, the USDA Forest Service temporarily closed California national forests at the end of August. By limiting the number of people in national forests, they hoped to minimize the chances of visitors becoming trapped during emergency circumstances, as well as decrease the potential for new fire starts.

Over 120 families were evacuated during the wildfires, while companies like Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) said that they spent approximately billions of dollars to decrease the risk of wildfires after the worst fire season in modern state history.

A lot of the wildfire risk for the state was reduced in October when California received its first rain in over 200 days.

According to the California Air Resources Board, climate change is increasing the severity and frequency of wildfires, as spring snowmelt occurs earlier and spring and summer temperatures are warming up.

Most Impactful California Wildfires In 2021

The most impactful wildfires of 2021 were the Caldor and Dixie fires.

The Caldor Fire burned 221,835 acres in the El Dorado National Forest and other areas of the Sierra Nevada in the Alpine, Amador, and El Dorado counties. It destroyed 1,003 structures, while 81 structures were damaged.

The Dixie fire burned in the Tehama, Shasta, Plumas, Lassen, and Butte counties, and it burned 963,309 acres, making it the largest California wildfire on record. It destroyed 1,329 structures and damaged 85 structures. The fire damaged or destroyed multiple small towns, including Warner Valley, Canyondam, and Greenville.

Both of these fires are among the top 20 most destructive fires California has witnessed.

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