Over the past year, California has had its most destructive wildfire season on record. As of November 11th, a total area of 1,667,855 acres have been scorched by 7,579 different fires.
Wildfires are nothing new to California. Every year, old foliage is burned away in a system that usually clears the way and enriches the soil for new growth. However in recent times, the fires have been far more destructive than constructive, with fire season lasting year-round, rather than just a few months. Many people have had to evacuate their homes to escape uncontained wildfires; and the blaze dubbed the “Camp Fire,” located in Butte County, has taken 88 lives. Numerous structures and buildings have been razed, including the historic Hollywood Western Town set in which Westworld and other TV shows and movies have been filmed. In addition, the air quality has reduced California to a state of constant smog. Much of the Bay is seeing air quality indexes of 200 and greater, which is ranked to be “unhealthy.”
Though the cause for them can be contributed to many different things, there has been an increased susceptibility for these infernos. 2017 set another record of 129 million dead trees in December, meaning an increase of fuel for the fires to burn through in addition to compounding atmospheric conditions caused by climate change. A new lawsuit is also placing the blame for Camp Fire on Pacific Gas & Electric, a utility company. State investigation has said the company allegedly failed to inspect and properly maintain its power lines, which sparked the deadly firestorm. PG&E released a statement saying that customer safety is its highest priority and that it is focusing on helping first responders. Many prominent figures like celebrities, football stars, and a few companies, have donated to aid in containment and relief efforts.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2018 California Fire Tracker, all wildfires have been contained, but at the cost of too many lives, billions in property damage, and countless displaced people running from the destruction.