In Southern California, thousands of people were called to safety from wildfires. According to authorities, more than 300 firefighters were on duty Tuesday battling the Highland Fire in a rural area southeast of Los Angeles. The fire department also used several firefighting aircraft. About 5,700 people were asked to leave the area or prepare to evacuate.
The fire broke out Monday in the small town of Agwanga in Riverside County. Strong winds then caused the hurricane to spread to an area of about 900 hectares. The fire destroyed three buildings.
“The biggest problem now is the strong winds,” fire department spokeswoman Maggie Klein de la Rosa told AFP. The National Meteorological Directorate expected wind speeds to reach 50 kilometers per hour. The area is currently experiencing so-called Santa Ana winds, which occur mostly in the southwestern United States in the fall. Winds carry dry desert air towards the sea, greatly increasing the risk of fires in vegetation.
In California, vegetation has grown significantly this year after a very wet winter. Experts warn that these plants can dry out and thus provide fuel for wildfires and wildfires. Overall, 2023 was a below-average year for fires due to heavy rains caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon. El Niño also created the first tropical cyclone to hit California in more than 84 years.
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