Not even soaking rain can ease fire risk in a California hit by record heat, dry landscape

A summer of drought, extreme heat and deadly wildfires will end with much-needed rain this week in parts of California, but it is unlikely to douse the threat of wind-driven

fires this fall in a state scarred by record-setting heat waves and bone-dry landscapes. Although recent rains helped tame some of the state's most active blazes — including

the Mosquito fire in El Dorado and Placer counties and the Fairview fire in Riverside — it's too soon to declare fire season over, experts say. In California, occasional bouts of

heavy precipitation are proving outmatched by rising temperatures and worsening drought, which can leave vegetation nearly as brittle and fire-prone as it was before the

rain. What's more, fall is often accompanied by gusty Santa Ana winds that help to fan wildfires. With experts now predicting a rare, third consecutive year of dry La Niña

conditions, the combination of winds and desiccated fuel could prove perilous. "We still have to be really vigilant," said Alex Hall, director of the Center for Climate

Science at UCLA. "The heart of the fire season — especially for Southern California and the central part of California — is coming up." More than 6,400 wildfires have

seared the state this year, with several paths of death and destruction. Nine wildfire fatalities have been reported, and nearly 900 structures have been damaged or destroyed,

according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. While the end of fire season has long been a race between wind and rain, the state's extreme heat

and drought are dismantling that association.