CHICO, Calif. - Winds contribute to fires in several ways. They dry out vegetation, feed fires with oxygen making them burn more intense, certain terrain features can emphasize stronger winds and gusty winds can carry embers a far distance leading to spot fires and jumping firebreaks.
We are under Red Flag conditions which includes strong winds. Winds can contribute to large fires in many different ways.
First off, winds in general dry out fuels. The stronger the fuels, the drier the fuels will be. Winds wick moisture away from vegetation and help it to evaporate.
With the fuels being dry and already approaching record dry levels right now, it is easy for the fuels to burn.
Fire needs oxygen to burn and winds provide nd excess supply of exygen to a fire. This leads to more intense fire that can spread faster and burn more thouroughly through the area.
It could lead to taller flames and cause the entire tree crown to burn. This could also make fire easier to spread among tree canopies and not just spread along the ground.
Strong wind gusts can lead to embers travelling ahead of a fire. This could jump fire breaks constructed by firefighters or cause fire 10-20 miles away if winds are strong enough.
The Venturi Effect also leads to strong winds in canyons and gaps in the mountains. The winds tunnel and become bottlenecked, leading to more intense winds locally. This causes dangerously fast spreading fires.
Fires can also travel more easily uphill so a fire can easily travel quickly down these canyon and escape the canyon at any point. This happened in the Camp Fire thanks to the Jarbo Gap winds.