Two dead in wildfire outside of Los Angeles during record California heatwave

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Two dead in wildfire outside of Los Angeles during record California heatwave

Two people have been killed as a wildfire south of Hemet, California, spread on Monday.

By Tuesday morning the blaze, which has been named the Fairview Fire, had reached 2,400 acres, about three times the size of Central Park.

The two people had been attempting to flee from a canyon when they were caught by the flames, officials said. It’s unknown whether they were related or from the same household.

One other person has been injured, and seven structures have been destroyed, according to CAL FIRE.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for thousands of homes in the area as the fire remains just 5 per contained. Schools in Hemet have been closed today as a result of the fire.

Temperatures in Hemet reached more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) on Monday as California goes through a record-breaking and prolonged heatwave.

The Fairview Fire has now reached 2,400 acres (AP)
The Fairview Fire has now reached 2,400 acres (AP)

As a result, 14 large fires burned over the weekend, with 45 new fires just on Sunday, reports the Associated Press.

Two other people have died in the Mill Fire in northern California.

Temperatures are expected to reach around 108F (42C) again on Tuesday, which can make conditions even more hazardous for firefighters.

Officials at the Fairview Fire also noted that ongoing drought conditions in the state have made the landscape extremely dry and able to burn. California is in the midst of a multi-year drought that has dried out the state’s lands and decimated water supplies.

A man holds a dog after evacuating the Fairview Fire outside Hemet, California (AP)
A man holds a dog after evacuating the Fairview Fire outside Hemet, California (AP)

The western US is also experiencing a decades-long “megadrought” fuelled by the climate crisis that has wreaked havoc for more than 20 years. One recent study found that the past two decades have been the driest period in the region for at least 1,200 years.

And the climate crisis is likely to make heatwaves like the one this week even more common. A UN climate science panel has warmed that as the planet warms 2C above 19th-century temperatures, heatwaves that used to occur every ten years will occur about every other year.

The planet has already warmed about 1.1-1.2C.

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