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California Hit With Biggest Wildfire of 2019 as NASA Warns on Climate

  • Area of state hit by fire has expanded fivefold in 40 years
  • Massive Amazon wildfires worsened air quality in Sao Paulo
A Cal Fire aerial attack plane drops Phos-Chek fire retardant on a fast-moving 200 acre brushfire (The McMurray Fire) after it closed Highway 101 and spread across the ranch and vineyard hillsides triggering some evacuations on September 9, 2019, just north of Buellton, California.

Photographer: George Rose/Getty Images

California’s biggest wildfire of the year has already burned more than 50,000 acres of timber and grass as NASA scientists say climate change is making such blazes more likely and harder to stop.

It’s a sobering scenario for the U.S. state with the highest wildfire risk, where land damaged or destroyed by fire has expanded fivefold over the last four decades. Almost a half-million homes worth an estimated $268 billion are threatened, according to Zillow. At 78 square miles, the area being torched is about a quarter the size of New York City.