Western wildfires have now burned an area bigger than New Jersey

Weather conditions and a huge backlog of management issues have led to the worst fire season on record—and it’s not over yet.

Early in the morning on September 28, while it was still dark, white ash floated down over parts of Sonoma and Napa counties in Northern California. By sunrise, fast-moving wildfires had burned more than 17 square miles of the state’s famed wine country, including a number of wineries and vineyards along the normally scenic Silverado Trail.

This year’s wine country wildfires haven’t reached the size of infernos from past years, but they are growing and still threaten to swallow many homes and workplaces. Perhaps those most affected by the raging fires are the region’s seasonal agricultural workers. Many are Hispanic, being paid hourly wages, and they may find themselves without jobs or homes if these blazes continue.

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