Graphic: The age of the 'megafire'

Sharon Bernstein and Manas Sharma
·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: LNU Lighting Complex Fire rages near Berryessa Highlands

By Sharon Bernstein and Manas Sharma

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - Wildfires shattered records across a number of U.S. states in 2020, with scientists and state officials placing much of the blame on climate change.

While nearly 57,000 wildfires sparked across California last year, much of the resulting damage was done by one of 11 “megafires” — blazes engulfing more than 100,000 acres (40,000 hectares), according to the U.S. Forest Service.

As climate change continues to warm the air, dry the land, and pull moisture from plants and the soil, scientists warn that such infernos could become more common in the future — especially after decades of fire-suppression efforts have allowed forests to become overgrown, and thus more fire-prone, in areas that are becoming more populous.

The following Reuters interactive looks at the evolution of massive, record-setting fires across various U.S. states.

Open this link in an external browser:

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California, and Manas Sharma in Singapore; Editing by Simon Scarr, Katy Daigle and Lisa Shumaker)