A single, devastating California fire season wiped out years of efforts to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas that has spurred a warming planet. And it may be no coincidence that two fires have struck in the same week that California is poised to pass a landmark climate law.
In San Jose on Monday afternoon, a wall of fire roared out of a wooded area underpass between Interstate 280 and the nearby Santa Fe Railroad tracks, ripping through a residential neighborhood and destroying dozens of vehicles, including at least 40 cars.
In neighboring San Fernando, a fire was burning through a shopping center on a busy downtown shopping strip when a man drove his car into the flames and doused it with gasoline. The fire quickly spread to a nearby garage and other vehicles.
A fire broke out Tuesday near a busy intersection while a man was walking his dog at 5:30 a.m., in San Francisco’s Mission District. The man survived and the street was temporarily shut down. The fire continued to burn as firefighters worked to contain it, but did not spread to any nearby buildings or vehicles.
In a third blaze Wednesday, a fire swept through a crowded shopping complex near a transit stop on the city’s light-rail system. The fire broke out in one of the building’s elevators but did not spread to any buildings.
A fourth fire that erupted in a residential neighborhood in the nearby city of Redding late Tuesday and sent firefighters racing to contain it Tuesday afternoon was extinguished early Wednesday morning.
Two wildfires ignited Monday in Southern California.
In the morning and afternoon, flames and smoke filled the sky and neighborhoods in some areas of the state with ashes and blackened skies. Residents in Ventura, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties described watching the fires in disbelief, while others, along with state and federal officials, sought to identify and extinguish them.
California is grappling with the largest wildfire season in its history, with more than 1 million acres charred in the three deadliest blazes on record.