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October wildfires, like the Canyon Fire 2 in Anaheim Hills, tend to burn more acres than any other month

By in Press Enterprise on October 9, 2017

By Daniel Tedford

The Canyon fire 2 burning in Anaheim hills has burned more than 2,000 acres and prompted evacuations of about 1,000 homes, destroying or damaging at least five homes.

And if history is an indicator, this October wildfire, like those burning near Napa and Sonoma in Northern California, could grow.

According to analysis of 16 years of Calfire wildfire data, more acres burn in California in October than in any other month.

While the June through September fire season generates more fires, in numbers, October fires are bigger. Between 2000 and 2015, October averaged 1,173 acres burned per year while the average for the other four months is about 440 acres, according to Calfire data.

Previous research has shown that a combination of heat and dry weather make the late summer and early fall months the most dangerous for fires. In a 2008 report by Dr. Anthony L. Westerling of UC Merced, he writes that 98 percent of acres burned in the Western U.S. happens between May and October.

“It should be reminded that, depending on location, most of the western U.S. is characterized by summer dryness (…). Therefore, it is not surprising that the peak of the fire season occurs during the hottest and driest portion of the climatological annual cycle,” he writes in the report.

While the overall trend for wildfires often the last 40 years has been decline, 2017 has been an outlier, generating several devastating fires statewide.

As of Sept. 11, Calfire had reported 5,102 wildland fires in their jurisdiction, fires that burned near 230,000 acres. During the same period of 2016, there were 3,803 wildfires and 204,000 acres burned. The five-year average has been 3,872 wildland fires and 155,807 acres burned, according to Calfire.

And as the fire raged in Orange County and threatened homes, […]    

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