A fire burned out of control in a forest outside Los Angeles on Monday, following a weekend of record-breaking temperatures, as forecasters warned of fire danger in the dry western United States. At least 400 hectares were devastated by the fire which began in the Los Angeles National Forest on Saturday morning.

Thousands were evacuated from their homes in the community of Wrightwood with only 5% of the fire contained. Firefighters said the fire is burning through an area with thick vegetation.

“The terrain is very steep, it’s a” complicated area, Alison Hesterly of Cal Fire San Bernardino told the Los Angeles Times.

Some 200 firefighters combat the fire even from the air.

“They are focused mainly on the edges of the northwest side and the extreme south, hoping that the wind does not push the fire outside the containment lines,” Hesterly said. The fire started in medium of extreme heat waves hitting parts of California and from the west, with temperatures that reached 45.5 degrees Celsius in Palm Spring on Saturday, the highest on record.

The Southwest has been hit by a unique drought that has left vegetation excessively dry and flammable. Fire chiefs are warning that 2022 could be a terrible year for fires.

In New Mexico, hundreds of thousands of acres of forest have been consumed by fires that have been burning for months. US President Joe Biden flew over some of the fires on Saturday.

The change of temperatures and fires are part of the natural cycle. But global warming, driven primarily by human consumption of fossil fuels, has disrupted that cycle. Hot spells are hotter than they used to be and weather cycles are less stable. This has exacerbated droughts and greatly increases the risk of devastating wildfires.

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