By Matt AgoristCNN StaffThis week, as the region grapples with a deadly earthquake that could trigger a catastrophic wildfire, experts are urging caution, warning of dangerous local and regional landslides and other potentially catastrophic consequences.
As the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) warns, the Los Angeles region could receive as much as 1,100 feet of new ground, enough to make an “extremely large” landslide a “real possibility,” according to the Los Vegas Times.
And the New Mexico earthquake could hit “several hundred feet” below the ground, the paper reported.
The region could also experience major landslides, the Times reported, with landslides that could cause $5 billion in damage and up to 5,000 fatalities.
“It’s going to be a very dangerous time,” the newspaper quoted Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Bob Henson as saying.
“People are going to have to do something very quickly.
I don’t know how many feet, but I’m afraid it’s going the right direction.”
The Times said the Los Azul fire could reach 2,000 acres (1,800 hectares), the highest fire on record in California, and the most powerful wildfire in the state’s history.
Henson warned that as the new fire burned, “the water level will go higher.”
“The water is going to rise, the water is high, the flames will continue to burn,” Henson said.
“So the water level is going higher.
It’s going higher.”
The fire is being fueled by a series of large infernos, which scientists say have been burning for at least two years.
In a recent study, a team of scientists in the United Kingdom found that a new inferno is on track to burn through about 30 percent of California’s land area in two years, according to CNN.
In some places, fires are already so severe that the area has been evacuated, with several areas declared disaster zones.
The new fire is the largest to have struck Southern California in nearly three decades.
The region has seen several deadly fires in recent years, including one in which more than 2,500 people died in 2009.