After two consecutive wet winters, California's summer heat has turned enormously dense grasslands and shrublands into fuel for many of the wildfires raging across the state.

All vegetation is baked to a crust under a record-breaking heat wave that has lasted several days and is expected to intensify across Northern California after a slight cooling on Tuesday.

“There's a lot of vegetation, and with the heat and wind that we've experienced, it's dried out significantly,” Chelsea Burkett, spokesperson for Cal Fire's Santa Clara unit, told KQED. “With the type of vegetation that we're seeing, there's always a risk that a fire could start and spread easily.”

In many cities, especially in the Central Valley, temperatures rose above 43 degrees, and in Redding a record high of 48 degrees was reached.

Dead brush on the ground throughout Northern California will become “hard to ignite,” according to the National Interagency Fire Center's latest forecast, and “the heat wave will flip the switch on the flammability of live firewood at lower and some mid-elevations.”

That means the heat has dried out some of California's forests to the point where they are now at risk of fire. That means the state will soon no longer have an active grassfire season, while wildfires are raging in the Klamath and Tahoe national forests.

Dozens of other smaller fires broke out last week and were quickly extinguished by some of the more than 7,000 firefighters deployed across the state, aided by the near-continuous use of helicopters and aircraft.

According to the latest count from the National Interagency Fire Center, at least 1,197 fires have broken out in Northern California this summer, and 2,396 in Southern California.

After the Royal Fire was kept from spreading in Placer County in the Tahoe National Forest near Sugar Bowl by a steady water and flame retardant attack from aircraft, officials cleared an area of ​​dense forest Tuesday to drop firefighters in by helicopter.

These crews are using chainsaws and other hand tools to cut lines around the fire. The fire is currently 15% contained, but only covers several hundred acres.

In far northern California, the Shelly Fire continues to rage in the dense Marble Mountain Wilderness near the Pacific Crest Trail and Shelly Lake.

The fire has devastated more than 3,400 acres of land and is raging near the communities of Etna and Greenview. More than 4,200 homes and buildings are threatened. Chris Christofferson, forest ranger for the Klamath National Forest, described the situation as “extremely serious” during a town hall meeting on Monday evening.

“I've seen how many communities like this have been threatened by wildfires, whether it's Quincy, or how Greenville and Paradise have been destroyed by wildfires,” Christofferson said. “And when I look at that, I'm very concerned.”

Firefighters have deployed bulldozers and workers to build a series of firebreaks to protect surrounding rural communities from being put at risk.

“Some of you are probably in an evacuation zone; I am too. Please heed the warnings,” Siskiyou County County Supervisor Ray Haupt said at City Hall. “I've lost six friends in Siskiyou County in the last few years because they refused to leave. These fires are not to be trifled with. I can help you rebuild homes, but I can't give friends back their lives.”

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