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In 2016, a total of 7,349 fires had burned an area 669,534 acres (2,709.51 km2) in California, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.Climatologists had predicted an extreme version of El Niño, known as a Super El Niño, to occur during the winter of 2015–16. Although the Pacific Ocean's warming water had been expected to bring strong storms to parts of the southwestern United States, actual precipitation totals generally underperformed those expectations. Early in 2016, The National Interagency Fire Center predicted that conditions from May through at least August would put much of the western United States in above-normal wildfire danger.

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