The United States lives a wave of high temperatures that led to 85 million people in more than a dozen states across the country receiving extreme heat alerts over the weekend.
The sweltering heat, which shows the threat posed by global warming, was especially felt in Washington, with up to 37 or 38 degrees Celsius. In New York it was around 35 ºC.
(Also read: The hottest places on the planet: they have registered up to 70º Celsius)
But the most alarming situation is experienced in California, where a ferocious forest fire spread during the early hours of Sunday
More than 2,000 firefighters, supported by 17 helicopters, were deployed against the Oak Fire, which broke out on Friday in California near Yosemite National Park, the California Forest Protection Service (Cal Fire) reported.
In just two days since it was declared, the fire has already destroyed more than 5,700 hectares. The authorities assured that the fire is progressing completely out of control because the heat and low humidity “make it difficult” to extinguish the work.
“The extreme consequences of the drought have led to a critical level of combustibility,” according to the Cal Fire report.
Deemed “explosive” by the authorities, the fire leaves destroyed vehicles and houses in its wake, while emergency personnel work to evacuate residents and protect buildings threatened by the advance of the flames.
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Already 10 properties have been destroyed, five damaged and thousands are in danger.
More than 6,000 people have been evacuated, Cal Fire official Hector Vasquez said.
“Personnel from various departments across the state are arriving to help control this fire,” Vasquez said, calling the situation “really complex.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Mariposa County on Saturday due to “extremely dangerous conditions for the safety of persons and property.”
Inaction on climate change
Evidence of global warming could be seen in other parts of the country.
The crisis prompted former Vice President Al Gore, a tireless champion of the fight against climate change, to issue stark warnings on Sunday about “inaction” by US lawmakers.
Gore was adamant when asked if President Joe Biden should declare a climate emergency as promised.
“Mother Nature has already declared a global emergency,” he told ABC News. And “she’s quickly going to be a lot worse,” she warned in another interview with NBC.
(Keep reading: In Spain and Portugal alone, the heat killed 1,500 people)
Mother Nature has already declared a global emergency
Gore also indicated that recent crises, including the deadly heat waves in Europe, should draw the attention of members of Congress, who have so far refused to take action on climate change.
“I think these extreme events, which are getting worse and more serious, are starting to change opinion,” he said.
The central and northeastern United States are the regions most affected by extreme temperatures.
“Scorching heat will continue across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast tonight before a low over Canada descends on the region tomorrow to moderate temperatures somewhat,” the National Weather Service said Sunday.
But temperature drops are not expected in all regions. Temperatures higher than 37 degrees Celsius may be recorded in the next few days in parts of eastern Kansas and Oklahoma, southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.
(You may be interested in: Surviving in a future of extreme heat)
Even the usually cooler Pacific-facing northwest will not escape the heat as temperatures are forecast to “rise steadily over the next few days, leading to possible new records,” the weather service added.
Many cities were forced to open refrigeration stations and increase protection for communities at risk, such as the homeless and those without access to air conditioning.
A heat emergency is in effect for Northeast cities, including Boston, Philadelphia and Washington.
Several regions of the planet have been hit by waves of extreme heat in recent months, such as Western Europe in July and India in March-April, which, according to scientists, is an unmistakable sign of climate warming.
*With information from AFP
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