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At least 8.5 million acres have been torched by wildfires so far this year across the United States, according to data from the National Interagency Coordination Center — about 2.1 million acres above the 10-year average of 6.3 million acres burned by this point in the year. California has been particularly hard hit.

Expand chart
Data: National Interagency Coordination Center; Note: Cumulative counts are sometimes revised, causing short-lived spikes or dips in the number of acres burned; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: California's Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in the state's history, has burned more than 140,000 acres so far and claimed at least 56 lives. It was only 40% contained as of Thursday morning. It's already historic in both its size and destructiveness, having burned over 8,500 homes.

  • California's fire siege has resulted from a combination of one of the state's hottest years on record, combined with extraordinarily dry vegetation along with frequent bouts of strong winds.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

5 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

10 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.