Wildfires in California prompt state of emergency

By Sarah Adamo
Staff Writer

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide emergency on Oct. 27,  due to the wildfires that have displaced almost 200,000 residents, according to The Associated Press. 

The state’s largest utility left millions of other residents in the dark by shutting down its transmissions of electricity to prevent fires from spreading to other areas. The Associated Press reported that the largest of the infernos, the Kincade Fire, has been raging for days in northern California. 

According to The Associated Press, only 70 percent of the fire — referred to as the “Tick Fire” — could be extinguished by Oct. 27, and while it was fully contained by Thursday, Oct. 31, its longevity reinforces the gravity of the dangers that wildfires pose to California. 

Wildfires are nothing new in California, but lately, they have interfered with daily life. The Associated Press reported that traffic was stopped on an Interstate bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area by two grass fires that also threatened houses in nearby Vallejo. Farther south, another fire emerged in the Santa Clarita area near Los Angeles and ravaged 18 structures. 

Later in the week, new revelations confirmed that the battle against Californian wildfires is far from over. As of Thursday, Oct. 31, residents in the San Bernardino area were instructed to leave their houses in the early morning because of a brush fire that soon spanned 200 acres in size, according to The New York Times.

The dangerously high winds are to blame for the quick dissemination of the fire, as with the other flames in the state, according to The New York Times. The blaze has been particularly hard to suppress due to dry conditions and low humidity. Spokesman Chris Prater of the county’s fire department named it the “Hillside fire.”

Another fire on Thursday, Oct. 31, was sparked southwest of San Bernardino, which required the displacement of another 2,000 residents. The New York Times reported that based on statements from Jeff LaRusso, a spokesman from the Riverside County Fire Department, 300 firefighters were needed to respond to that incident alone. 

“‘We’re hitting it (the fire) with both rotary and fixed-wing wing (sic) aircraft,’” LaRusso said of the situation, according to The New York Times. 

Preceding these infernos, CBS News reported that the Getty Fire, named as such because of its proximity to the Getty Center of Los Angeles, started on Oct. 28.

The flames force almost 200,000 residents to relocate (Flickr).

The blaze known as the “Easy Fire” demanded over a thousand on-scene firefighters, CBS News reported. The fire started before dawn on Oct. 30. Winds of 70 mph only perpetuated the problem. A barn was consumed, but volunteers were able to save many animals from the burning structure. 

The Los Angeles Times reported that 12 homes were set ablaze and the fire has yet to be extinguished entirely, as it covered 745 acres at its pinnacle. For fires such as these, utility equipment is suspected to be at fault, according to The New York Times. 

However, even after the fires are extinguished, the devastation in their wake serves as a reminder of the climate change that plagues the world. According to CBS News, a new study from the journal “Earth’s Future” showed that due to climate change, California’s yearly wildfire extent has risen to five times since that of the early 1970s.

 The researchers wrote that “‘this trend was mainly due to an eightfold increase in summertime forest-fire area and was very likely driven by drying of fuels promoted by human-induced warming,’” according to CBS News. 

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