In recent times, wildfires have been burning at higher rates than ever before in California. Gone are the days when there was a season that could be defined as one prone to fires. It also seems that each year is getting worse in terms of the number and severity of fires. In recent years, California has had at last 70 more days of wildfires in a year compared to half a century ago.
Wildfires come with the undesired outcome of destruction of property, loss of lives, huge costs to the state, and other unwanted consequences. In California, wildfires have forced the state to use up a whopping $4.7 billion in the past ten years. In fact, the leading firefighting agency, Cal Fire, uses up its allocation just a few months into a year thus leaving it poorly equipped to react for the remaining period.
In response to the fires, more and more senior figures of the state have stepped in to try to provide a resolution. Governor Gavin Newsom and his team of legislators have been working full time in order to come up with a fund of $21 billion for compensating victims of a fire. They are also coming up with legislation to ensure that precautions are taken to proof against fires.
Current Fires in California
Presently, there are two major fires that have been ravaging California namely the Kincade Fire and the Getty Fire. The Kincade Fire started on October 23 at around 9:27 PM at the John Kincade Road and Burned Mountain Road in Sonoma County. The exact cause has not been determined but the fire has destroyed about 76, 138 acres of vegetation. So far, emergency teams have contained about 15% of the fire and are working day and night to make sure the issue is resolved.
On the other hand, the Getty Fire started on October 28 and rapidly destroyed about 600 acres and displacing plenty of people. The cause of the Getty Fire is believed to be an accident started by a falling branch on power lines. The branch fell at the 1900 block of North Sepulveda Boulevard. As of October 29, about 15% of the fire was contained.
Due to the severity of both fires, the state has declared a statewide state of emergency. About 180,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes. The area being evacuated mainly includes Sonoma County as well as Santa Rosa. Power companies are also actively switching off the power in order to prevent secondary fires from starting out.
What is the cause of all these fires?
In recent years, the months are getting hotter and drier, which means that fires in December, which is not common, are now a usual sight. In the past, fires in later periods of the year in California simply died out after hitting wet vegetation and rain. This drier climate also increases the number of dead vegetation, which is conducive to the spread of wildfires. Forests in California cover about a third of the state and contain about 150 million dead trees.
With the demise of vegetation, more land is exposed to the influence of wind, which increases the rate of spread of wildfires. Presently, firefighting teams are battling with constant gusts of strong winds with a particularly strong one forecasted for Tuesday (October 29). The winds can reach speeds of up to 50 mph.
People are the main cause of the state’s wildfires whether by intention or accidentally. People do this through acts of arson, unattended fires, cars, cigarettes, and other ways.