Worst Wildfires Ever…Again


The recent blazes along the west coast are gigantic and destructive. Photo by the La-ist

Dash Pandher, Reporter


If you step outside, you can see that the sky is smoky, and it seems to be raining ash. Do not be alarmed, it’s not the end of the world, merely California burning. California, Oregon, and Washington are all on fire. Wildfire season is well known, and every year citizens are told to be cautious. 

Wildfires are not uncommon along the west coast, but the fires raging currently are some of the worst ever seen. The intensity and damage of the fires has been getting exponentially worse in the last 10 years, with each year topping the previous.

The fires have been steadily getting bigger and more destructive. This is causing temperatures to rise, and is producing the worst air quality seen in years. As time goes on, the fires are causing more and more people to evacuate as  it covers the entire west coast in a smoky haze. Wildfire season has just begun and already 3.3 million acres have been burned, almost half the amount that was burned from 2001-2010. Over 4,200 structures have been destroyed as of September 16, 2020, and nearly 7,900 wildfires have burned. Some of the smaller wildfires join to create the massive blazes seen. As fall approaches, wildfire season reaches its peak, since winds pick up and spread the fires while simultaneously making it harder to battle them.

Property damage is not the only concern, health is a major one. These large fires release smoke into the air covering entire cities, and with the intensity of these fires, the smoke is stretching for miles. The smoke was so strong that at one point the east coast was being covered in smoke plumes. That’s over two thousand miles. 

Smoke carries harmful microscopic particles that once inhaled enter the bloodstream and can cause inflammation in any number of areas within the body. This inflammation can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome, which causes your lungs to be unable to get as much air as they need because they are unable to expel the liquid within them, and in extreme cases can cause respiratory failure. Not to mention the body is at a higher risk of cancer, specifically lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and lung disease.

On a wider scale, these fires are detrimental to the environment. Summers have had recording breaking temperatures year after year, and that is directly related to the fires. Hot weather dries out the plant life, and with California’s drought there are only dry plants, which are the perfect fuel for fires. 

It’s ironic that climate change is the main cause of California’s drought, which then makes California prime fire food, and those fires increase the Earth’s temperature. This increased temperature feeds climate change. As this vicious cycle continues, fire season is longer and any small spark and lead to another raging wildfire.

This is the case for the El Dorado Fire. An expecting couple decided to do an explosive gender reveal in an open field, which then caught on fire. The El Dorado Fire is only 44% contained after burning 14,283 acres and counting. Although, this fire was caused by careless and ignorant behavior, not all of the fires are. 

The Creek Fire here in Fresno County was only able to grow into such a huge blaze because of the surrounding dead trees that died because of the drought. 

As the drought causes more plants to dry out, citizens must be extra cautious. They must avoid flammable areas and to create any sort of fire or spark in these areas. Furthermore, citizens must avoid having unsupervised fires, and avoid fires overall, especially during wildfire season.

Since these precautions don’t insure that wildfires won’t happen, officials have started looking into ways to break this cycle, and the increasing drought allows for more dried vegetation. Forest Service scientists have always advocated for fire prevention, which includes cleaning vegetation and controlled fires like the Native Americans used to have when they lived in California, but that can only be done with funds. Currently those funds are being used to fight the current wildfires or being hoarded in case of fighting wildfires in the future. Without investing in fire prevention, California is bound to experience more record breaking fires, and experts don’t believe it will endure for much longer. California isn’t destined to survive this.