Wildfires Continue to Spread Across California
Wildfires continued to spread across California over the weekend, killing at least 31 people and destroying 6,453 homes by Nov. 12. Two of the largest wildfires remain mostly uncontained, after burning more than 100,000 acres in the past few days.
One of the wildfires, “Camp Fire,” started burning last Thursday and has already burned through the city of Paradise, with a population of 27,000. The fire nearly leveled the town, left 200 people unaccounted for, and killed 29. The “Camp Fire” is still only 25% contained, but has already been called the most destructive wildfire in California’s history.
West of Los Angeles, the “Woosley Fire” has destroyed 370 structures so far and placed 57,000 structures under threat. The wildfire has claimed two lives and is only 20% contained. The fire destroyed houses of celebrities in Malibu and Thousand Oaks, and burned down movie and TV show sets of Hollywood studios.
Gov. Jerry Brown has requested a "major disaster declaration" from President Trump. The President hasn’t responded to the request, but did tweet, “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”
Batallion Chief Lucas Spellman of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection attributed the rise in wildfires to a combination of last year’s precipitation - which brought vegetation to California’s wildlands - and this year’s drought. He called the current conditions a “recipe for destruction.”
Experts say the rise in wildfires are caused by climate change and California’s history of fire suppression. A century-long precedent of fighting wildfires has increased the amount of vegetation in California wildlands, making it easier for wildfires to spread quickly yet harder to be contained. The Canadian government has started “prescribed burns” to reduce the amount of vegetation and reduce the risk of future wildfires.
For now, firefighters in California are working long hours to contain the wildfires, while many residents are getting ready to evacuate. Current weather forecasts predict strong winds that may fan the flames, making the wildfires even harder to control.