As AIN went to press, the severity of the 2003 forest fire season was repeating, as feared, in Europe as well as in the western U.S. Blazes in forest and scrub land were causing havoc, particularly in France, Portugal, Spain and, on the eve of the Olympic Games, in Greece.
Although excessive rainfall and mudslides have hit Southern California hard this winter, near-record lows in rain and snowfall elsewhere in the west are increasing the risk of forest fires. A Columbia Helicopters spokesman said, “There have already been several fast-moving grass fires in the area. If these conditions continue–and forecasts say they will–we will have tinder-dry forests that are ripe for fires.
HAI is warning its members that a dry, warm winter across the Northwest and even the record winter rainfall in the Southwest have created conditions that indicate this year’s wildfire season could be extreme.