Never ending fires in California

(Photo by the Washington Post)

(Photo by the Washington Post)

Ashley Riggs, Asst. Managing Editor

Imagine if the students of Milford High School had to worry about air quality, and constantly being prepared for the power to go out. Yes, Michigan is prone to losing power due to thunderstorms or windstorms, but not to the extremity that California has dealt with the past few years. The California Department of Forestry and Fire  reported 6,190 fires in California, which burned around 198,392 acres of land in the state during 2019. That many fires already seems like an insane amount, but those numbers have been worse. In 2017 and 2018 California experienced the wildest, deadliest forest fires mostly caused by drought. For example, in July 2018, the Mendocino Complex Fire is currently the largest California Forest fire, burning about 459,123 acres of land.  Due to climate change, it is estimated that the fire season in California, when the climate is most prone to forest fires, has expanded 75 days longer than in the past. The rise in temperature during the spring and summertime is creating longer dry seasons. Causing fire to be one of the main things on the minds of most California residents.

Toward the end of October, California’s forest fires became a common topic to talk about. Starting in the Los Angeles area, the Getty fire on the 28th and following with the Hillside Fire on the 31st. And most recently, the Ranch Fire that started on Nov. 3, and is still not fully contained. As of November 7, 2019, the Ranch Fire was only 32 percent contained. With 3,768 acres already burned, only 3 injuries have been reported, and zero fatalities. But death and injury are not the only big consequence of these forest fires; these fires are putting greater amounts of carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere, further contributing to climate change, which will over time continuously increase California’s burn season. Also, the air quality in California is not very safe, there was an air quality advisory issued for the Bay Area in California on Tuesday, Nov. 4, due to the Ranch Fire putting smoke into the air. 

The New York Times published an article written by a 16-year-old Kate Armanini, a resident living in Mountain View, California, explaining how she believes there needs to be changed to help prevent these forest fires. “I’m 16. I should not have to worry about the air quality or whether my power will be shut off. And no one should fear that his or her home might burn down,” said Armanini, “More preventive measures must be taken to prevent future fires so that we never have to experience this again.” Most children already have the fear of their house catching on fire, and them losing all their personal belongings, even though they know that chance is rare. On the other hand, for children in California, the chance of their house catching on fire is far more likely, and that is something no child, or anyone, should be afraid of. Losing a home, and all of the belongings inside, can be extremely devastating and leave people poor, homeless, and cause a major life change for people. 

The fires in California do not seem like they will be coming to an end any time soon; in fact, it is far more likely for the forest fires to get worse over time. Some ways people can try and prevent these forest fires are clearing dead trees, and ensuring homes have asphalt shingle roofs, because they are more fire resistant.