A Mild Fire Season (So Far)
The Highland Fire, roughly 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, has burned nearly 4,500 acres of rural brushland since it ignited Monday afternoon. Over 4,000 people were ordered to evacuate as the wildfire doubled in size Tuesday, with just 15% contained (see map updates).
The fire comes amid a below-average fire season in California. Wildfires have burned over 300,000 acres in the state so far this year, just 20% of the five-year average. Experts suggest the reprieve stems partly from a very wet year, with a long series of atmospheric rivers that dumped almost 30 inches of rain and snow in the state last winter, ending a two-decade drought. The rain was followed by cooler-than-normal temperatures that precipitated the state's first major hurricane in 84 years.
Fire officials also noted a twofold increase over 2022 in acres undergoing prescribed burns, which serve to remove high concentrations of brush likely to fuel future fires. Watch how prescribed burns work here.