California’s Wildfires: Another Season of New Records


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Wildfires burn across the state of California in yet another year of new records.

Fiona Salisbury, Photojournalist

Wildfires are nothing new to Californians. When temperatures rise, the land becomes more dry, and high winds become frequent, people anticipate a possible wildfire in their area. However, in recent years fires have become significantly larger due to climate change. According to CalFire, ten of the top twenty largest wildfires in California occurred in the last ten years and the five largest fires have all occurred within the last three years. In 2020 alone, five California fires have made it into the top twenty largest wildfires in California history. The data shows clearly that the fires in California are becoming much larger and more frequent, leading  many people to wonder how devastating fires in the future may be.

In Yorba Linda, the two closest fires are the Bobcat and the El Dorado fires. As of September 16, CalFire has reported that the El Dorado fire is 63% contained and it has burned 18,506 acres. While the El Dorado fire has begun to slow in its spread, the Bobcat fire is growing in size. The Bobcat fire is only 6% contained and it has burned 36,366 acres. These two fires have largely contributed to the bad air quality in Orange County; since they  are still actively burning, it cannot be determined when the smoke will clear the area.

This year, the August Complex fire has replaced 2018’s Mendocino Complex fire as the largest fire in the history of California. The fire started on August 16 by lightning, and since then  it  has grown tremendously. On September 16, CalFire reported that the August Complex fire is 796,651 acres and it is 30% contained. According to Analise Hopper (10), “the fire is a lot bigger than [she] had originally thought.” When looking at a map of California, she was able to get an idea of just how much land was burning due to one fire.

Many people can agree that the future of California wildfires will likely be full of many more record-breaking fire seasons as temperatures continue to rise. Because of this, it is important that people are prepared if there were to be a fire in their area. According to the American Red Cross, the three steps to prepare for a wildfire are to stay informed about the wildfires burning in your area, to be prepared to evacuate in a moment’s notice, and to have an emergency kit ready just in case.

As the wildfires continue to burn, consequences have followed. According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 3.3 million acres have been burned throughout the state, the cost of fighting the fire is around $580 million, and smoke can be seen 5,000 miles away from the fires. This year’s fire season can be seen as a wake-up call to Californians telling them that now is the time to act to prevent a future of many more record-breaking fire seasons.