(Reuters) - Wildfires in California have burned more than 4 million acres, or 6,250 square miles, (1.6 million hectares) in 2020, over twice the previous record for any year and an area larger than Connecticut, the state's fire agency reported on Sunday.
The most-populous U.S. state has suffered five of its six largest wildfires in history this year as heat waves and dry-lightning sieges coincided with drier conditions that climate scientists blame on human-caused global warming.
At least 31 people have died in this year's fires and over 8,454 homes and other structures have been destroyed, Cal Fire sate in a statement.
California's previous record burn area was nearly 2 million acres in 2018 when the state had its most deadly and destructive wildfire that killed at least 85 civilians and destroyed nearly 19,000 structures in and around Paradise.
"There's no words to describe what is taking place and what continues to take place," said Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean. "It goes to show how dry the state is and how volatile the vegetation is."
California suffered a prolonged drought from around 2010 to 2017, causing diseases and insect infestations that killed millions of trees. That followed over a century of fire suppression that also built up brush and dead trees, turning some forests into tinderboxes.
City real-estate prices and second-home construction have seen the growth of communities in peripheral, wildland areas that have naturally burned for millennia.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
But wildfires are also burning in areas historically spared from major blazes, such as the Bay Area wine country.
In Napa County, where the so-called Glass Fire has destroyed parts of at least 17 wineries, strong winds and hot temperatures forecast for the weekend did not appear as a layer of fog rolled in.
A cooling trend was expected to begin slowly in the state, decreasing temperatures slightly each day this week, with a chance of rain in Northern California, Cal Fire said.
(Reporting by Andrew Hay; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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