Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Started by a lightning storm hitting the hot and windy weather, wildfires have been spreading rapidly throughout California, burning more than 3 million acres. Millions of residents have been left to breathe in toxic air with debris particles, and to face many blackouts and heat waves. Unfortunately, this is occurring across the entire west coast, not only California, where towns in Oregon and Washington are being destroyed as firefighters are pushed to their limits.
The current condition of California began with many extreme weather conditions colliding.. Starting off with high temperatures reaching 130 degrees Fahrenheit, to tropical storms triggering rare lightning storms, smaller flames burst into infernos, destroying everything in their way. The lightning from the storm caused many small fires in distant locations, making it difficult for firefighters to fight the flames. Additionally, the fires were close to the homes of many California residents and could have brought potential harm. The fires have gone to the severity in which it created a “fire tornado”, a smoky swirl of 30,000 feet that contained lightning.
The fires are creating their own winds, after taking advantage of the arid environment and parched land of California. Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA stated, “These fires are doing such crazy things, they’re moving so fast, and they’re dangerous to approach”. Since California hasn’t reached their peak wildfire season yet, many people believe that the end to these terrible fires are not even close yet. Especially because temperatures are hot and dry for the next few weeks, Crystal A. Kolden, an associate professor of forest, rangeland, and fire sciences at University of Idaho remarks, “These fires will be really tough to contain until this heat wave breaks.”
Because of the severity of these natural disaster collisions, many people are looking for what could be of blame for these wildfires on the west coast. One of the top reasons would be climate change. Chris Field, director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment notes “ …there’s no doubt that the risk of catastrophic wildfires is increasing dramatically because of climate change”. Although wildfires are a natural part of nature, the longevity of the fires, the impact, and the severity has increased drastically, making many people nervous.
Min Hur is a staff writer for the Critical Writing Team and the manager of the F&A team in the Incandescent Review, and a high school student in Long Island, New York. Her Instagram is @_min_e_ah