The 2021 California wildfire season continued the worrying trend of more extreme fires than the historical norm. As of December 12, 8,786 wildfires had destroyed over 2.5 million acres, about 1 million more acres than the five-year average, according to Cal Fire.

Persistent drought, excessive heat, and ineffective forest management policies are among the factors contributing to larger and more destructive fires. Considering attributes such as intensity, severity, and rate of spread, some experts characterize the behavior of 2021 fires as “extreme,” “unpredictable,” and “unprecedented.”

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