SCIENCE

By The Numbers: The Raging California Wildfires

Valley and Butte fires have swallowed a chunk of land that's as big as Chicago

SCIENCE
Flames from the Valley Fire. — REUTERS
Sep 21, 2015 at 12:05 PM ET

Two raging California wildfires were only 69 and 70 percent contained on Monday morning, swallowing up swaths of forest equal to the size of Chicago and threatening even wider destruction.

Since the Valley and Butte fires ignited on September 9 and 12, respectively, they’ve devoured around 1,400 homes. Thousands of other structures are now in danger of incinerating, fire officials said.

150,000 acres

The two large California wildfires, Valley Fire and Butte Fire, have scorched a total of around 150,000 acres in less than two weeks. That’s roughly equal to the size of Chicago.

5 deaths, four injured firefighters

Of deaths reported from the Valley Fire were senior citizens, highlighting the vulnerability of aging people in emergency situations.

4th most damaging fire in California’s history

The Valley Fire claimed that title based on the number of structures damaged, according to local media.

Wildfires burn 6 times as much land they did 40 years ago

These fires were sped up by the four-year drought that’s been “turning once-lush woods into crackling tinder that has ignited in explosive and unexpected ways,” writes Climate Central’s Bobby Magill.

More than 100 wildfires a year for 13 years in a row

In the 1970s, an average of 50 wildfires spanned 1,000 acres each year. Since 2002, more than 100 have sparked annually.

29 helicopters are fighting the fires

The Valley Fire is facing 22 choppers and the Butte Fire is up against seven. That’s more helicopters than are known to be in the U.S. president’s Marine One fleet (19 operational vehicles).

$90,000 raised for animal victims

An online fundraiser for Middletown Animal Hospital has blown up on social media, helping save animals who were affected by the wildfires.