- Associated Press - Thursday, December 14, 2017

LOS ANGELES (AP) - California’s seemingly endless cycle of wildfires is driving plans for authorities to set more “controlled burns” of thin forests choked with dead trees and dry underbrush that works like kindling.

The U.S. Forest Service and the state fire agency warned this week that an estimated 129 million trees that died in the last year from drought and beetle infestation threaten to feed monster blazes that force entire communities to flee.

Fire authorities call the bone dry material surface fuels and say their 2018 goal is to clear at least 31 square miles (80 square kilometers) of it statewide through prescribed burns.

Crews using chain saws and heavy equipment would clear another 31 square miles of the ground fuels.

California’s wildfires have burned 1,560 square miles (4,040 kilometers) so this year.

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