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California Wildfires Continue to Burn

Blaze enters fourth day

Wildfire season has gotten an early start this year. A stubborn blaze burning northeast of Los Angeles, now into its fourth day, has forced more than 1,000 people from their homes in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Investigators have yet to determine the cause, but the region has been hit with unseasonable heat and low humidity, which officials say makes it tough to contain fires once they start. See Reuters's video of the dramatic, 500-acre-plus blaze. Researchers have made strides in predicting where wildfires may strike—information that fire experts may be able to use to prevent them by taking steps such as doing controlled burns of parched underbrush. As if the situation is not bad enough, climate researchers warn that warming global temperatures threaten to exacerbate wildfires in the western U.S. Ecosystems can take years to heal after a strong blaze, and wildfires may reinforce climate change by boosting atmospheric carbon dioxide. The 2007 California wildfires were one of Scientific American.com's most notable stories that year.

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