California Wildfires

Kendra Williams, Staff Reporter

106 people killed, 1,893,913 acres burned, and 3.5 million dollars.

California is ranked number 1 on the list of the top 10 states at high to extreme wildfire risk. There have been at least 8,054 wildfires in 2018 alone and many don’t know why they are occurring. One answer many point to is climate change. California’s average summer temperature has increased by 1.8 degrees celsius (2.5 degrees Fahrenheit) since 2007. Although this may not seem like much of a difference, those 2 degrees have a very large impact on the forests. Rising temperatures causes faster evaporation and dries out the soil and plants, thereby making the plants easier to ignite.

Another answer that is often pointed to is people themselves. In California there have been 6,190 incidents in the past year of arson leading to wildfires. Arson is when a person purposely sets fire to a property. State agencies reported that the number of arson cases has increased by 20 percent in the past 6 years. One of California’s largest arson cases in recent years was the Esperanza Fire. The Esperanza fire lasted from October 26, 2006, to November 1, 2006, in Cabazon, California. There were 5 fatalities, 15 non-fatal injuries, and cost the U.S. $9.9 million. By the time it was put out, it burned over 41,173 acres of land. This fire was started by one man, Raymond Lee Oyler, who was sentenced to death on June 5, 2019.

As a result of the increase in the number of wildfires, many people have lost their homes and have had to leave California. Many try and help those affected by the fires by donating money and food, volunteering, and even opening their homes to them. Those kinds of actions help the people affected immensely as they cope with the loss of their home or loved ones. Whether the result of climate change or arson or other causes, wildfires are claiming homes and lives, and humans bear the responsibility of taking action to minimize the number of wildfires and the destruction they cause.

California firefighter attempts to control the blaze. Source: Accuweather