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Environment

The speed and ferocity of the wildfires raging through Northern California's wine country have caught many residents off guard and left state officials scrambling to contain the flames.

But for fire researchers, these devastating blazes are part of a much larger pattern unfolding across the Western United States. So far this year, fires in the U.S. have consumed more than 8.5 million acres — an area bigger than the state of Maryland.

When it rains in Puerto Rico, it rains hard and it rains fast. And this week — three weeks after Hurricane Maria — it has rained a lot.

For portions of the island – especially in the mountains and in the valleys – that rain brings a continual trauma of mudslides and flooding. Even in San Juan, highway exits pool with a foot or more of water. In restaurants with cell service, the S.O.S alarms on phones ring out in a cacophony – warning of flash floods. But the capital city has fared comparatively well — it's the rural places that are doing much, much worse.

David Tipling / Yale University Press

The days have gotten shorter and the leaves continue to change -- all signs autumn is definitely here. But for animals, the beginning of fall means undertaking major lifestyle changes -- in order to survive the winter.

Plant Chicago / Creative Commons

I'm always looking for unusual ways to grow gardens. One technique I stumbled upon has been used in Germany and Eastern Europe for hundreds of years. It's called hugelkultur.

CandiceDawn/iStock / Thinkstock

Attorney General George Jepsen has said Connecticut will join other states in suing the Trump administration over its move to kill the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

Updated at 11:40 p.m. ET

In the outbreak of powerful and destructive fires that have struck California since Sunday, there are now 22 large wildfires burning in the state. They've caused at least 23 deaths and scorched nearly 170,000 acres, officials said Wednesday.

Just in time for fall, a new heavyweight champ of the botanical variety — tipping the scales at more than one ton — has squashed the competition.

A giant green squash broke the world record Saturday at the Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers Pumpkin Weigh-off at Frerichs Farm in Warren, R.I.

Joe Jutras of Scituate, R.I., grew the 2,118 pound fruit. After the number appeared on the scale, the other growers lifted Jutras onto their shoulders.

Updated at 6:17 p.m. ET

At least 15 people have died in intense wildfires that have destroyed thousands of buildings in Northern California, where firefighters are battling 17 large blazes in the state's wine country, including Napa and Sonoma counties. Together, they've burned 115,000 acres, according to Cal Fire.

Jon Kalish / NENC

In the small town of Warren, Vermont a so-called “net zero” house is being built that will not use any fossil fuel. The house has solar panels on the roof to generate electricity and pipes in the ground to capture geothermal energy for heating. It won’t be using power from the grid that was generated with fossil fuel.

Updated at 8:08 p.m. ET.

As many as 10 people have died in wildfires that erupted in Northern California over the weekend, forcing residents in the wine country north of San Francisco to flee as homes went up in flames. At least 1,500 structures have been destroyed and 20,000 people evacuated, according to member station KQED.

Seacoast Eat Local / Creative Commons

With the cool weather and short days of October, thoughts often go towards pumpkins and winter squash.

As my tour guide, Bill Eccleston, and I walked through the dirt, twigs and puddles of the George Washington Wildlife Management Area in Burrillville, we heard a bird call above us. 

Natalia Wilson / Creative Commons

With all the hot weather this week, it's hard to think about planting for spring. Heck, I'm still swimming! But October is bulb planting time and one of the beauties is the crocus.

Lori Mack/WNPR

New Haven has been given a class 7 rating by the National Flood Insurance Program. That’s the highest rating available in the state. 

In a tiny sliver of shade, on a hill next to Puerto Rico's Route 65, Kiara Rodriguez de Jesus waves a sparkly pink hand fan to keep cool.

"I trust in God," she says. "Please, come the gas."

Along with her family, parked in a Volvo SUV, she has been in line for gasoline since 3 a.m., she says. Now it's after 1:30 p.m. And like everyone else at this gas station, she has no idea how much longer she'll be waiting.

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