Wildfire Outburst

Wildfire Outburst

Sydney Shimada, Journalist

The month of August brings many challenges for the people of California. Every year in the fall they have to be prepared to evacuate their homes, leaving their possessions and memories behind. Other citizens have to stay inside and endure the smoke, which turns the skies amber and leaves the air smelling like a barbecue. Or providing refuge for those who left everything behind. This year is no different, and the Californian citizens are learning how to adapt to the newest challenge we are facing; the outburst of wildfires. 

Over the past four years during the fire season, our state has gone up in flames. Local campers, lightning storms, and dry land are just some of the many causes of wildfires. This year, we have another crisis that we have to deal with, the Coronavirus. With people evacuating their homes they are left with the troubling question, “Where will I stay?”. Normally you could stay with family or friends, but since we have to social distance our choices are more limited. Staying with older family members can be a risk and staying with friends would mean being more exposed. 

On August 20, 2020, 48,000 people were ordered to evacuate their homes in the city of La Honda, California. Families were to pack their most valuable items and leave the county.  By then, 50 structures had already been burned to the ground. As of Thursday evening, Santa Cruz had declared a state of emergency. The largest of the lighting started fires had grown 219,000 acres and according to CalFire was 0% contained. 30,000 structures were at risk of being destroyed and 480 had already been burned to nothing but ash and smoke. Brice Bennett, a public information officer for CalFire says, “‘The public needs to be prepared and have a plan and have a go bag…This is showing us we can have wildfires anywhere.’”

Along with the spread of COVID and the risk of your house burning down, respiratory health is a big issue with the rapid spread of fires. When a fire burns a building, structure, etc. it produces ash and smoke. Breathing in smoke is very bad for your lungs and can damage your respiratory health. The fine particles are the biggest issue from smoke fire. They can get deep into your lungs and cause many health problems, including, a running nose, burning eyes, lung, and heart diseases. People most at risk are the elderly, diabetic people, people with lung and heart diseases, or people with asthma. Staying inside is one of the best ways to avoid the smoke, keeping medication close by is advised in case of emergency. Wearing masks and getting air cleaners are also good ways to protect yourself. 

2020 has been a hard year for everyone. From Covid-19 to California fires, it seems our world is really falling apart. Even though the hard times remember to try to stay positive and that hopefully, all this will end soon. Social distance, wear your masks, keep healthy and safe!