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Wildfires Blaze Across California

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Wildfires Blaze Across California

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

USDA

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

USDA

USDA

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Lucy Brenner

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Early November brought strong winds and excessive heat to the state of California, resulting in ravaging wildfires that brought widespread destruction to everything in their path. Many residents were forced to evacuate their homes due to the danger these fires posed, including high-profile celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian, Will Smith and Lady Gaga, and the fires have caused over $2.975 billion in damages. The wildfires of 2018 have become the most destructive wildfire season on record in California, with a total of 7983 fires burning an area of 1,824,505 acres of land.

While deadly fires blazed in California in the summer months of 2018, so much so that a state of national disaster was declared in Northern California, the more recent fires of November amassed  significant attention and concern from the nation. Images of barren, demolished structures and entire homes rendered to ashes have been blasted across the news, along with videos of the fires themselves, depicting massive blazes of unfathomable power. The Camp Fire, which devastated Butte County in Northern California in November, was the deadliest, most destructive wildfire in California’s history, and the sixth-deadliest within the United States as a whole, causing 85 deaths and destroying 18,804 structures. The Camp Fire took over two weeks to fully contain, displacing the region’s many residents and resulting in massive traffic jams as civilians raced to escape the fires. Some were forced to abandon their cars due to the traffic jams, instead resorting to travel by foot, and others who remained in their vehicles were overtaken by the fire, the latter of which resulting in at least four deaths.

Not only northern but also southern regions of California were afflicted by these deadly wildfires, including the Los Angeles and Ventura Counties that were rampaged by the Woolsey Fire. Normally a picturesque image of pristine beaches and crystal blue waters, Malibu and the Pacific Coast Highway were consumed by smoke and flames, as winds pushed the fires even further southward. In total, the fire destroyed 1643 structures, including historic movie sets and the homes of celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, killed three people and led to the evacuation of over 295,000 people.

In the wake of the deadly wildfires, many evacuees have returned home only to find that their house and all their belongings within it had been completely demolished. The tragedy has prompted many people to search for the sources of the fires as well as how the response can be improved in the future. Recent research has indicated that climate change could be a large factor behind the increased number and devastation of the wildfires, as California’s conditions have grown drier and hotter as years have passed. In a tweet, President Trump blamed the deadly blazes on poor forest management, which received criticism from much of the public. Regardless of their cause, it is clear from the high death tolls and immense destruction that something must be done to better maintain and respond to California’s wildfires, or to prevent them altogether.

 

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Wildfires Blaze Across California