California’s Wildfire Epidemic

Emma Shaughnessy ’20, Features Editor


Since November 2018, deadly wildfires have raged through the state of California, destroying homes and taking the lives of many. This isn’t the first time California has experienced such extensive wildfires. In fact, on August 4, 2018, a national disaster was declared in Northern California due to the life threatening wildfires that had been erupting throughout the summer. Scientists have been investigating the possible causes of the massive fires for many months, and although they have not been able to determine the primary source, they believe the fires are usually caused by humans and spread by strong winds.

In Northern California, the deadliest wildfire in California’s recorded history ignited in Butte County on November 8, burning nearly 155,000 acres of land. This wildfire has been dubbed “Camp Fire” because it started near Camp Creek Road north of Sacramento. As of November 23, 84 fatalities have been confirmed and 560 people are unaccounted for. Additionally, almost 20,000 structures were destroyed, the majority of which were homes. The fire has also caused havoc in nearby cities, including San Francisco. The smoke was so dense that citizens were advised to stay indoors and use protective masks outside. Due to heavy rains, at the end of November, Camp Fire was 95% contained; however, officials fear the rain may cause devastating mudslides.

Woolsey Fire also ignited on November 8 in Ventura County, and rapidly spread to Los Angeles County. The entire city of Malibu was under mandatory evacuation orders, as officials feared the fire could spread to the Pacific Ocean. In total, Woolsey Fire burned almost 97,000 acres of land and caused three fatalities and three firefighter injuries. Additionally, nearly 1,700 homes were destroyed and about 365 were damaged. Like San Francisco, the Los Angeles and Ventura counties were issued smoke advisories, as the smoke posed a “significant health threat” for all inhabitants. Fortunately, as of November 21, Woolsey Fire was 100% contained.

In response to all that was lost in the fires, many celebrities are reaching out to help. Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, shared a video on Twitter saying that State Farm Insurance pledged to donate $1 for every retweet. He planned to give the entire profit to the recovery efforts of Camp Fire. Guy Fieri also contributed by using his culinary skills to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the evacuees of Camp Fire. Although these catastrophic wildfires are mostly contained, it is likely that California will continue to experience destructive wildfires in the future. Wildfires have erupted in California numerous times over the past hundred years, and although scientists presume the primary cause of the outbreak is climate change, there currently is not much that can be done to prevent the fires.