(EL DORADO, CA) –A wildfire that has destroyed dozens of homes in California is now the largest in the state this year.
The Mosquito Fire has burned through nearly 64,000 acres and gutted 70 structures in El Dorado and Placer counties since it sparked on Sept. 6, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Of the structures that were destroyed, at least 25 have been single-occupancy residences, fire officials said.
The fast-moving fire has exploded by more than 15,000 acres since Monday and is just 20% contained, according to Cal Fire. It has now surpassed the McKinney Fire as the largest in the state in 2022.
The smoke is so intense that it has produced hazardous air quality in states farther north and east, such as Oregon and Wyoming, and it is billowing farther east toward the Midwest. Combined with other wildfires in the West, heavy smoke is causing poor air quality as far east as Billings, Montana, and moderate air quality as far east as Rapid City, South Dakota — and the smoke is expected to continuing traveling toward the East Coast.
This is not the first time smoke from wildfires in the West has traveled to cities more than 1,000 miles away.
Last year, smoke from more than 100 large wildfires from California to Montana drifted toward Denver and the Rocky Mountains.
However, humidity is on the rise for the majority of the area covered by the Mosquito Fire, which will assist firefighters in containing the blaze, fire officials said.
Nationwide, more than 6.7 million acres of land have burned this year, with most of the fires concentrated in the Northwest, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. More than 43,000 of those fires were sparked by people, while just 6,341 were sparked by lightning, according to the agency.
Bone-dry landscapes as a result of a decades long megadrought in the West is exacerbating the fire danger, causing dehydrated vegetation to act as fuel for the flames.
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