Even in a year that is already infamous for US catastrophes, the Thomas Fire of December in the dry windswept hills north of Los Angeles was a staggering event. Ignited near Thomas Aquinas College southeast of Ojai on Route 150 (thus, the name!), it burned hard and it moved quickly with 50+ mph winds. After the wet spring (floods!), there was ample new fuel for fires, and the dry and breezy conditions drove risk levels to unprecedented heights. Sure enough, an unprecedented fire happened.
The wildfires in California this month have been historically devastating, on their way to becoming the most expensive and tragic wildfires in the country’s history. These wildfires seem to be unusual, or even unlike anything we have seen before. Sadly, there is a direct comparison – a very recent comparison, in fact.