Worst Wildfires in California's History

Worst Wildfires in California's History

After nearly five years of drought, California is experiencing some of the worst wildfires in the state's history. In the beginning of October, the wildfires broke records, causing a death toll of 41. Spanning from Santa Rosa to Sonoma to Napa, the fires have caused major destruction in residential areas. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says 245,000 acres have been burned and more than 5,700 structures have been destroyed. Luckily the response rate has been high, with 11,000 firefighters helping to reduce the fire's effects and continuation.

Being so separated from California makes the issue seem less important, but noticing its effects on my home state has made it more prominent. On Tuesday Oct. 17, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a warning that stated “The Air District is issuing a Health Advisory & Spare the Air Alert through Wednesday Oct. 18, due to unpredictable air quality in the Bay Area. Unhealthy air quality from the wildfires continues to plague the North Bay, as well as other parts of the Bay Area. Due to active wildfires and changing wind patterns, air quality throughout the Bay Area could be impacted for many days to come.” This warning leaves the Bay Area under restriction because of the questionable air quality in parts of the state. Smoke can cause respiratory issues, such as coughing and irritated throat and sinuses. It is especially dangerous for the elderly and children, which is why many schools have been keeping students indoors to prevent inhaling of the wildfire smoke.

The warning also addresses the global effects of these fires. Along with the high death toll and massive land destruction, the fires are causing environmental damage in majority of the Bay Area and Northern California. Luckily, precautions have been set to try and protect people who are in danger and reduce the harmful effects of the fires. On Oct. 8, Governor of California, Edmund G. Brown Jr., declared a state of emergency. One of the key orders is that “All agencies of the state government utilize and employ state personnel, equipment, and facilities for the performance of any and all activities consistent with the direction of the Office of Emergency Services and the State Emergency Plan. Also, all residents are encouraged to heed the advice of emergency officials with regard to this emergency in order to protect their safety.” Here, the need for help and obedience to the emergency orders have been outlined, creating a hopefully effective response to mitigate the fire damage. The Governor has also reached out to the federal government in support of the issue. After receiving the help approval from the White House, Brown stated that “The Federal Emergency Management Agency has responded promptly to assist California in fighting these terrible fires. I appreciate the fast response from the President.”

There are several ways to help support the people affected by the California Wildfires. One of the best ways is to donate, and several places are available for contribution. The most widely known is American Red Cross, which can directly support aide in fire relief. There are also volunteer opportunities through the Red Cross, as well as suggestions for how to stay safe and protected when fires do occur.

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