The California wildfires have made the news frequently the past few years. Although it seems to defy logic, as the Southwest recovers from the recent severe drought, the wildfire problem has gotten worse. Much of the chaparral that grows in the canyons of California contains a turpentine-like sap that is highly flammable. Grass and other ground cover plants have spread rapidly after last winter's rains, providing widespread tinder to ignite the chaparral.
When high pressure builds into the southern Rockies during the fall, easterly winds are generated which blow hot, desert-dry air up and over the coastal mountains and down the canyons, helping the fires spread rapidly. In the past five years, a total of 382 of California's 163,696 square miles of land has burned. That amounts to about 0.23 percent of the state.