A wildfire burning across the southern end of California has prompted evacuations, road closures and the closure of hundreds of thousands of acres.
It’s the worst wildfire outbreak in California’s history, and officials say it could be worse.
Here are five things to know about the fires and the threat of them.
What is a wildfire?
A wildfire is an intense, sustained fire that can reach more than 500,000 acres.
The word is from the Greek for “fire.”
A wildfire burns because of a combination of factors, including the lack of moisture and lack of a dry, stable ground underneath it.
The fire can grow from a small tree to a full-grown tree in less than a day.
How dangerous is it?
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says it is not the first time that California has seen a major wildfire outbreak.
In the late 1980s, the state experienced three large wildfires that reached more than 50,000 square miles, and they lasted longer than 10 days.
That fire destroyed 1.6 million acres and destroyed a million homes.
In 2005, a wildfire near San Francisco destroyed nearly 1.2 million acres, and there were more than 8,000 fires burning at the time.
How do you prevent wildfires?
Most wildfires are natural, but they can be prevented if they are properly managed.
The best way to protect your property is to follow the steps in this California wildfire checklist.
For more on wildfire management, read our interactive guide.
How long can it last?
Firefighters say they can’t guarantee the state won’t see more fires over the next several months.
The fires are usually in the late fall or early winter, and the fire season lasts through the summer months.
What are the symptoms of a wildfire and how can you tell if it’s burning in your area?
People who live in and near the fire zones are likely to experience some symptoms, such as burning skin, itching or swelling.
But they are generally mild and don’t cause problems.
Most people have no direct or immediate symptoms from a wildfire, and symptoms can last for several days.
Firefighters can help people who have been exposed to a wildfire.
Fire fighters may be able to offer personal protection for you.
For example, they may place a fire extinguisher, water purifier or heat source on the ground.
Firefighter-led health care providers may also be able help you.
The most important thing to know is that fires burn fast, so you should be prepared for a long, hot fire and then to have to put up with smoke and other toxic fumes for several hours before it passes.