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Thousands evacuated after intense fires sparked in California

An airplane makes a retardant drop over homes in California. Photo:Getty


Thousands evacuated after intense fires sparked in California


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | AUGUST 20th 2020


People numbering the thousands were forced to flee their homes after fires, sparked by lightning strikes across dry woodlands, burned across the state of California, destroying many houses and killing a helicopter pilot.

The many forced to evacuate the searing blazes had already been dealing with blackouts, as well as the extended issues regarding coronavirus spread and quarantine. The burning of numerous homes is thought to only be the beginning, as the flames have been spreading at a rapid rate, overwhelming fire departments and first responders in the state.

Over the course of a 72-hour stretch, somewhere around 11,000 lightning strikes had been documented this week. This is following the severe period of heatwaves that had tormented the world, leaving much of the global woodlands dry and extremely flammable.

“It’s kind of an overwhelming fire siege,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. He went on to add that the blazes were smouldering in just about every Bay Area county, except for the highly urban San Francisco. “So basically, everywhere there’s land to burn, there’s land burning in the Bay Area.”

According to Cal Fire, the state’s fire agency, the wildfires that’d been busily spreading through the state’s Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties have gone on to cover what’s estimated to be at least 46,225 acres. Cal Fire had also said that on Wednesday, disaster struck when a helicopter crashed in Western Fresno county during a water dropping mission, killing the pilot as a result.

The many hills and mountains just adjacent to Northern California’s wine country, severely dry as a cause of heatwaves, had particular trouble with the many fast-spreading flames. In the town of Vacaville nearby, police officials warned that the evacuation of a state prison was initiated as a cause of the encroaching blazes. Officials also went on to report that 50 structures have burned down in the town, and another 50 had been damaged by the fires.

California Governor Gavin Newsom told a news conference that “We are experiencing fires the like of which we haven’t seen in many, many years,” having additionally stated that he’d requested the assistance of 375 fire engines from outside of the state, calling for aid. “As those lightning strikes spark, as you have a lot of smoke, you have a difficult time determining the total number of fires until certain things clear and we have the opportunity to go to more remote parts of the state.”

“The fire was moving so fast – and it was engulfing everything around us,” said Arbelaez Brown, who’d previously worked as a disaster relief responder for the Red Cross, shaken by the occurrence of flames despite her training for such situations. “My 14-year-old was freaking out, crying. But I explained to the kids we can replace things, we can rebuild the house. As long as we’re safe.”

Meteorologists expressed worrisome thoughts on the incidents, saying that the presence of both extreme heat and the lightning strikes are concurrent with the same weather patterns, on an atmospheric level. This being a rather large high-pressure area over America’s desert South-Western regions.

Scott Maclean, a spokesman for CalFire, said that such dry lightning strike occurrences were rare, as well as record breaking. The last time such dry lightning had happened was all the way back in 2008, nearly 12 years ago.

“The combination of uncontained wildfires and extreme heat has created conditions that put even healthy individuals at risk,” said Afif El-Hasan, an American Lung Association spokesman, to the Los Angeles Times. “The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic only makes these potential effects more serious.”

The combination of the climate-induced wildfires that have been vast around the world recently, having seen extreme cases in places such as Australia and the Amazon, as well as Siberia, together with the pressing threat of the coronavirus pandemic is causing unprecedented issue, especially towards those left without a home as a result. It’s important to remember that while one of these issues is out of our hands, the other -the issue of climate change- can and must still be managed, if such disasters are to be prevented in future.


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2020