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Wildfires are getting bigger every year; the best thing you can do is prepare

BY GREG MELLEN, Behind the Badge

Brown skies and red sunsets. Ash falling from the sky like snowflakes. Smoke traveling from California to New York. Wildfires in California have become a seasonal phenomenon that seems to grow by the year.

Drought, heat, changing weather patterns, encroachment into the so-called urban wildland interface — all these are factors have changed the fundamental nature of fires, management and suppression in California.

To help residents, groups like Ready OC, Orange County’s emergency preparedness resource, stand in the gap with vital information.


  • Since California started recording fire incidents in 1932, the 10 worst fire seasons have happened since 2000

  • In 2020, more than 4.4 million acres burned

  • The seven largest wildfires in California have all occurred since 2018

  • This year’s still-burning Dixie Fire at 963,000 acres ranks No. 2 behind last year’s August Complex Fire

As part of National Preparedness Month and in preparation for National Fire Prevention Week, Behind the Badge connected with Fire Chief Brian Fennessy of the Orange County Fire Authority, who provided written responses to questions about wildfire and preparedness.

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