The Humble Shrub That’s Predicting a Terrible Fire Season

“I think the forest fire risk this year is going to be about as high as it can be,” Swain adds. “And that’s pretty alarming considering what we’ve seen in the last couple of years.”

In 2019, the Kincade Fire burned nearly 80,000 acres north of San Francisco, and in 2020, a rare summer storm sparked hundreds of blazes that blanketed Northern California in smoke. “This year, with the lack of rain and the amount of dead fuel that’s still remaining from the years and years of drought, California is still receptive to another equal, if not worse, fire season than we saw last year,” says Jon Heggie, battalion chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as CalFire.

With vegetation already so…



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