California Gov. Jerry Brown thanked firefighters for their courage Monday as they battled with nature to stop two fires raging in California that destroyed hundreds of homes and forced tens of thousands to evacuate.
“This is the future,” Brown said at a press conference Monday, warning that fires are “scary stuff” that were aggravated by a historic four-year drought and climate change.
The Valley Fire, which started Saturday and grew to 61,000 acres (95 square miles) Monday or about twice the size of San Francisco, has claimed one life, destroyed at least 400 homes and displaced more than 10,000 in Lake, Sonoma and Napa Counties.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) officials said at a press conference Monday that the fast-moving wildfire that raged through communities living about 100 miles from San Francisco was only five percent contained.
"Whether you're a rookie firefighter ... or a seasoned veteran, everyone is saying the same thing: [We] have not seen fires spread and move in the way they're moving in this case," Cal Fire chief Ken Pimlott said at Monday’s press conference.
The valley Fire fire and another in the Gold Rush country of the Sierra Nevada foothills, about 120 miles to the southeast, are the worst of a dozen burning in the state. Between them, they have destroyed 535 homes and hundreds of other structures and displaced 23,000 people, Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, told reporters Monday
Pimlott said there have been 1,500 more fires than usual for this point in the year, and warned that it’s only going to get worse. Severe drought conditions and dry vegetation helped the fire to explode, Pimlott said.
"Climate change is not going to go away ... It's going to stay around even after newspapers are forgotten,” Brown said as he discussed California’s extreme fires.
Brown recently chided presidential hopeful Ben Carson for saying: "There is no overwhelming science that the things that are going on are man-caused and not naturally caused. Gimme a break."
In a letter to Carson, Brown cited Californi's lengthy drought and even included a flash drive containing a report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Brown ends the letter by saying: "Please use your considerable intelligence to review this material. Climate change is much bigger than partisan politics."
— Gov. Brown Press Ofc (@GovPressOffice) September 10, 2015
The Associated Press contributed to this report.