Wildfires Ravage California

Kirsten Ehlers - 1A Biomedical Engineering
Posted on: November 28, 2018

California has been plagued with wildfires this season. This bout of fires are specifically in Southern California. People have been blaming the abnormally strong Santa Ana winds and katabatic winds from Great Basin and Mojave Desert.

The Thomas fire is the largest fire in Los Angeles since the 1961 Thirty six thousand eight hundred seven acre Bel-Air Fire. Additionally, the Thomas fire is growing at an unprecedented fast pace with 31 000 acres of growth in the first nine hours. As of last Sunday, the 173 000 acre fire had only been 15% contained [1].

The damage has been extensive. The Thomas Fire has displaced 98 000 Californians and put 6 800 homes and businesses in the dark. Overall, the wildfires this year have caused $10 billion in damages [1].

How did the wildfires get so bad?

The short answer is climate change.

The long answer, is that California has experienced the hottest past five years ever and has just ended its second worst drought ever. This has resulted in increased frequency of tree death. Also the rising population of bark beetles have significantly contributed to tree death. These dead trees are explosive fuels to the wildfires.

But the drought has reduced groundwater levels so there simply isn’t the resources to fight the fires. Furthermore, California is not expected to get any relief anytime soon. It is predicted that the drought will continue until December 20th. [2]

The one good news from these devastating fires is that no one has been killed.



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