2018 was California’s worst year regarding wildfires

How the fires have impacted those around them



A wildfire in California. Courtesy of Wikipedia via Creative Commons

Clara Kardash, Author

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 2018 has been California’s worst wildfire season yet. There have been over seven thousand fires that have burned over a million acres. In the summer there was a series of wildfires that swept across the Northern part of the state, perhaps the most notable of which was the Carr fire, which burned over a thousand buildings and caused over a billion dollars in damages. The most recent fire was so violent that it made history. The Butte County Camp Fire erupted on November 8 and was not fully contained until November 25. According to NPR, this fire was the “deadliest and most destructive fire in California’s history.” Thousands of people across the state of California have been affected by these fires.

Former Battlefield student, Emma Toureau, moved to Los Angeles to attend The American Musical and Dramatic Academy. When asked about how the recent campfire affected her, she said, “The three most recent fires were the worst any of us have ever experienced. We had to wear masks whenever we went outside for at least a week because the air quality was so bad. I had friends and family, particularly those in Malibu, who haven’t been home in weeks and some who lost their homes entirely.” Toureau was also asked about what was difficult to understand about the fires from an outsider perspective. She said, “The most difficult part to understand about the fires is their size. One of the three fires burned through 235 square miles. Prince William County is 384. That’s almost two thirds of the county. We’re blessed that the firefighters enclosed them so quickly.” Toureau concluded that it would be a while before everything returned to normal.

Overtime costs for firefighters in California have grown 36% in recent years. Captain Osh Ahmad of the Urban Search and Rescue Force gave the New York Times a description of the fires, “I have been doing this a long time, and every time it gets harder and harder. It’s such a devastation here…It is absolutely heartbreaking to think what people had to go through and the last minute decisions they had to make.” Captain Jeff Edson of the Butte County Firefighters was up close to the destruction while it was happening, “It’s a war zone but not a war,” he explains, “It’s total devastation.” The perspective of those who dealt with the Butte Fire and the many fires prior make it clear that no one in the area goes completely unaffected.

While it can be difficult to imagine exactly what the fires are like from across the country, those who have shared their experiences help to paint a picture. What is most prevalent is that the fires have changed the lives of many and have made an impact that will last a long time. Nevertheless, the state has experienced a strong sense of unity over the last year.