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Uncontrollable fires spread as California suffers record drought

Extreme fires

(NaturalNews) Tens of thousands of residents of Southern California have been forced to pack their bags and quickly flee their homes due to a massive, uncontrollable blaze that has overtaken major highways in the state, burning an estimated 50 square miles.

The fire was first reported on Tuesday morning in Devore, California, but quickly gained momentum, spreading from just five acres to more than 1,000 within an hour. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported that by the end of the day the inferno had burned more than 15,000 acres.

The UK's Daily Mail reports that the fire is burning with "a ferocity never seen before by veteran California firefighters," leading Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.

"In my 40 years of fighting fire, I've never seen fire behavior so extreme," Incident Commander Mike Wakoski told the media.

California fire burns with never-before-seen intensity

"It hit hard. It hit fast. It hit with an intensity that we hadn't seen before," said San Bernardino County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig. "There will be a lot of families that come home to nothing."

More than 82,000 residents from nearly 35,000 homes were asked to evacuate due to their homes being threatened by the blaze. All but about a dozen residents agreed to leave.

The massive fire comes on the heels of one of the worst droughts in California history. Though water use restrictions were lifted across two-thirds of the state in June, California remains in a severe drought.

"We've been clear at a state level we're still in a drought, there's still a need for conservation," said Max Gomberg, conservation manager for the state Water Resources Control Board, before adding, "We don't need people to go to extraordinary measures like they did last year."

Ignoring a potential crisis

However, California's lackadaisical attitude towards water conservation is largely responsible for getting the state into the situation it's in now.

The state's wealthiest residents sparked controversy last summer, after it was revealed that they were using high quantities of water to maintain their lush green lawns and sparkling swimming pools.

One Rancho Santa Fe resident told the Washington Post that not everyone is equal when it comes to water, adding that if you can afford it, you should be able to have it.

Though the wealthy don't appear too concerned about water shortages, polls show that the majority of Californians consider the drought to be one of the state's most critical issues.

Environmental groups: Easing water restrictions sends the wrong message

It's for this reason that environmentalists say that lifting water restrictions sends the wrong message to consumers, leading them to believe that water shortages are no longer a threat.

Reports confirm that the majority of the state's larger water districts no longer have to comply with conservation orders, because the agencies claim they have enough water to last even another three years of drought.

But environmental groups aren't buying it.

"Moving to zero percent mandatory conservation - it's a confusing message to be sending to California. We're in the midst of the hottest summer on record and fighting raging wildfires," said Tracy Quinn, senior water policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental group.

In addition to a severe drought and looming water shortages, another major environmental disaster threatens the Golden State. Experts recently warned that a monster earthquake along the San Andreas Fault could have devastating consequences for the state.

Scientists say it's only a matter of time until a massive earthquake strikes, potentially leaving tens of thousands of people homeless or dead.

As Natural News reported, even worse is that "some experts believe that the next earthquake could coincide with one rippling along the adjacent San Jacinto fault line, which happens to run through more densely populated cities, and could escalate the devastation to much higher levels than predicted.

"This is what is believed to have occurred in 1812, and there is a strong chance that it could happen again, as past geological events are considered good indicators of future ones."









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