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Point Fire spreading in Sonoma County

Rising smoke from the Point Fire blocks the sun in Sonoma County
Courtesy of Cal Fire @CALFIRELNU X.com
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Cal Fire
Rising smoke from the Point Fire blocks the sun in Sonoma County

The Point Fire that broke out in Sonoma County on Sunday is the earliest large fire of this year’s wildfire season, and its timing may have to do with the abundant rain in California over the past two years.

Burning by Lake Sonoma, just outside Healdsburg, the fire is spreading across 1200 acres and is 20 percent contained as of noon Monday.

Cal Fire says nearly 400 people have evacuated so far, with just as many on evacuation alert.

Although California typically has a highly variable climate, Steven Sadro, Associate Professor in Environmental Science at UC Davis, says that variability between very wet years and very dry years is increasing. Those conditions, he points out, make it prone for fires to start and spread quickly.

“That change in climate as well as what have been historical forest management practices of forest suppression have meant that we have in many parts of the state not only a hair trigger for starting fires but also a very large fuel load on the ground that's capable of burning at high intensity.” 

Cal Fire has 400 personnel with three helicopters at the Point Fire…with that number expected to go up tonight.

Christopher Alam is a writer, producer, and journalist based in San Francisco.