Trevor Dobbs, Staff Writer
Wildfires are nothing new to the nearly 40 million people that call California home, in fact, the residents of California have come to expect this to happen every few years. The climate in California, along with their high density urban population, makes the southern part of the West Coast of North America a breeding ground for such phenomenon. California is predominantly a Mediterranean climate with much of its landscape being covered with chaparral vegetation, a climate/biome characterized by warm summers and low-lying shrub-like vegetation. With these kinds of conditions, it is not hard to imagine why California is having these issues.
While the wildfires can be considered normal and part of the ecosystem of a chaparral Mediterranean climate zone/biome, the fires are burning longer, the damage is getting increasingly more expensive, the number of acres burned are increasing each time, and the fires are becoming more frequent. Some would argue that the effects of this are due to the climate of California becoming drier and hotter for longer periods. Others would argue that a rapidly growing population is the culprit. Most experts agree that it is some combination of both climate and human activity that is the culprit for the increase in wildfire activity.
Unfortunately, 2018 has proved to be an exceptionally bad year for California in regard to these wildfires. So far, this year has been one of the worst on record; more specifically, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDFFP) claims that this year has seen more acreage burned than in any other time in recorded history for the state. The CDFFP also claims that the cost of the damage as a result of the fire in the year 2018 to Nov. 15 is estimated at around 2.975 billion and counting. In this state of emergency, people of California have lost homes, farmland and several people have even lost their lives.
The most recent wildfire alone, named “The Camp Fire,” located in Butte County, California, has thus far destroyed over 10 thousand structures and killed at least 63 people, with over 600 people being reported as still missing. Any one of these stats as well as the overall combination of them make the Camp Fire to be considered the deadliest wildfire in history for California, with the death toll still rising. As of Nov. 15, the fire is 45 percent contained with many firefighters working around the clock just to put it out.
While Camp is the most destructive fire in California right now, several fires begin to burn across the state in Tulare, Solano, Ventura, and Los Angeles County with 620 buildings being destroyed thus far, mostly in the Los Angeles/Ventura fire area. The average for the containment for these fires is currently at 50 percent.
While it is unclear when exactly the fires will be contained, firemen, law enforcement personnel and a whole array of volunteers have gotten numerous donations and a wide array of support from not only the state of California, but also from around the country.