California approaches grim record as nearly 4M acres destroyed by wildfires


California is staring at a sobering milepost this weekend — 4 million acres burned this year by wildfires.

Only about 20,000 acres have to burn before the state reaches an unparalleled number, The Associated Press reported. Most of the acres have burned since mid-August, when lightning strikes ignited several major fires.

Firefighters hope a bit of cooler weather will buy them time to hold off the record — at least for Saturday.

Red flag warnings of extreme fire danger expired early in the day and next week’s forecast calls for the possibility of rain.

Still, the weeks of relentlessly high temperatures and years of drought make pop-up fires a real possibility in forests filled with dead trees and dried-out grasslands.

Right now, 17,000 firefighters are battling roughly two dozen major blazes. This year’s death toll stands at 31.

“It just leaves us kind of nervous that we’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to what might happen in California,” Jonathan Cox, a deputy chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told the AP.