Entire state of California now in extreme drought, fueling wildfires

BY Joshua Barajas  May 15, 2014 at 4:43 PM EDT
CARLSBAD, CA - MAY 14: A man flees erupting flames as a house on Skimmer Court is engulfed by the Poinsettia Fire on May 14, 2014 in Carlsbad, California. Thirty homes have burned in the fast-moving Carlsbad blaze, fueled by record heat, high winds and dry conditions. At least four other fires advanced in nearby communities. (Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

CARLSBAD, CA – MAY 14: A man flees erupting flames as a house on Skimmer Court is engulfed by the Poinsettia Fire on May 14, 2014 in Carlsbad, California. Thirty homes have burned in the fast-moving Carlsbad blaze, fueled by record heat, high winds and dry conditions. At least four other fires advanced in nearby communities. (Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

As firefighters attempt to extinguish several fires across Southern California, 100 percent of the state is now in extreme drought or worse, the U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday.

The entire state is in the three highest levels of drought: severe, extreme and exceptional, 23.31 percent, 51.92 percent and 24.77 percent, respectively. Since March, the state has threatened to be completely in drought following a dismal wet season that offered no rainy relief.

While the milestone is a first for California in the monitor’s 14-year recording history, the state has been going through worsening drought conditions for years. Worsening drought patterns have also been seen in states such as Texas that, in 2011, faced the worst year of drought in its history.

California’s drought conditions have been fueling the wildfires, which is especially troublesome for a state with an intensifying fire season. Cal Fire has fought more than twice the average number of wildfires — nearly 1,400 — for this time of the year, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Since Wednesday night, firefighters across the state have faced as many as three dozen fires with this week’s high temperatures and gusty winds fanning the flames. That number has dropped to eight on Thursday, CNN reports.