California Wildfires

By: Joanne Wang

Wildfires in Southern California have raged and spread for the past week, destroying many acres of land and structures. There are five main, active fires and one that has been fully contained. The areas affected include San Diego County, Los Angeles County, Ventura County, and Santa Barbara County.

The largest southern California fire is Thomas fire. It began on Dec. 4, and as of Dec. 11, this blaze is only 15 percent contained according to the fire protection agency Calfire. At least 230,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties have been scorched, destroying 790 structures and leaving $34 million in damages. This fire is the fifth largest wildfire in modern California history.

The second largest blaze in Southern California right now is Creek fire and ignited Dec. 5 in Los Angeles County. This fire has burned 15,619 acres and is 95 percent contained.

Rye fire ignited Dec. 5, also in Los Angeles County, and has scorched 6,049 acres of land and is currently 93 percent contained.

Lilac fire was kindled Dec. 7 in San Diego County, damaging 4,100 acres, and is 80 percent contained.

Skirball fire started on Dec. 6 as a brush fire in Los Angeles County and has consumed 422 acres. Currently, this wildfire is 85 percent contained.

The sixth and smallest fire was Liberty Fire. The fire ignited Dec. 7 in Riverside County, burning 300 acres. Fortunately, it is now 100 percent contained.

In addition to destroying many properties, the fires have made the air quality in several areas unbearable.

“One of my colleague’s sisters, who lives west of where the fire was– even though their home was not in danger– the air quality was so bad and smokey that she and her family had to come down to stay with my colleague, who is her sister,” Ruo Steensma, a San Diego County resident, said.

Many people were also indirectly affected by the fire ash. Ash from the burning trees gets carried by the wind to other places, making many people’s yards and properties very dirty.

“My family has experienced how messy ash is from previous fires, not from the fires right now, but I know people who are dealing with it right now,” Steensma explained.

The six wildfires have forced many people to evacuate from their homes and left a large path of destruction. Aside from these natural disasters having caused millions of dollars in damage, they have also provoked a discussion about climate change.

Many argue that climate change has not only caused these fires, but also all the other natural disasters that have wreaked havoc this past year: Hurricane Irma, Harvey, Jose, and Maria. Jerry Brown, California Governor, has expressed that he believes the cause of these fires is climate change.

           “Climate change is real. It is a threat to organized human existence.A lot of you people are going to be alive. And you’re going to be alive in a horrible situation. You’re going to see mass migration, vector diseases, forest fires, Southern California burning up. That’s real, guys,” Brown states, according to the LA Times.

             Although there is much controversy about the influence of climate change, there is not doubt that there have been a concerningly high number of natural disasters this past year.  

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