Mojave Desert, Joshua Trees Burning In California’s Biggest Fire Of Year

"California’s biggest wildfire of the year — burning through delicate Joshua Tree forests along the California-Nevada border — is an unusual desert blaze being fueled in part by the rapid growth of underbrush from this winter’s record rains.

The York fire had scorched 77,000 acres as of Monday, with no containment. After first being observed Friday, the blaze has spread mainly across the Mojave National Preserve in eastern San Bernardino County, but recently jumped into western Nevada. No evacuations have been issued as a result of the fire, which is burning in mostly remote areas.

“It’s a public misconception that the desert doesn’t burn, but we’re seeing right here that that’s not case,” said Sierra Willoughby, a supervisory park ranger at Mojave National Preserve. “They’re not as rare as we would hope them to be.”

Just 10 days before this wildfire was spotted in the New York Mountains area of the Mojave National Preserve, park officials warned of extreme fire risk for the federally protected desert, banning all open flames."

Grace Toohey and Alex Wigglesworth report for the Los Angeles Times July 31, 2023.

Source: LA Times, 08/01/2023