Wildfires scorch through the west coast


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Wildfires continue to burn and destroy the state of California.

Jamie Adams, Staff Writer

Wildfires have been rapidly spreading throughout California, leaving citizens in fear. A lightning strike on Aug. 15, has been one of the many causes of this catastrophe. Since then, the state of California has approached nearly 4 million acres being burned, resulting in them to be under a state of emergency.

Over the last several years, California’s changing climate has negatively affected the state. California has had very dry, windy and hot weather conditions, making it the perfect home for forest fires. Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory states, “This climate-change connection is straightforward: warmer temperatures dry out fuels. In areas with abundant and very dry fuels, all you need is a spark.”

Fire fighters have risked their lives every day since the start of these fires. Nearly 16,500 fire fighters have been a part of this constant battle, losing 4,200 structures, which have been destroyed.

The chairman of Mount Wilson’s board of trustees, Sam Hale, comments on the courageous fire fighters as he says, “We owe our very existence to the firefighters on the ground and the helicopter pilots,” Hale said. “They are our heroes.”

This year is the state’s worst record of wildfires, which has forced 180,000 people to leave their homes. The citizens who have stayed have reported health problems such as respiratory issues because of the poor ventilation and the smoky atmosphere.

“These are intense, huge blazes,” said Tom Steyer, a billionaire environmentalist and former democratic presidential candidate. “This is a huge, immediate, urgent problem.”

Professionals are seeking every option possible to control these fires, but are simply outnumbered.

In August, the state and federal government have begun tasks to try and prevent these fires with tactics such as prescribed burns. These planned fires are used to reduce the spreading of wildfires as they clear down trees, restore natural resources, and control plant diseases.

These fires are not only affecting California’s terrain, but also their oceans. As carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, the ocean acts as a sponge and absorbs it. This increase in toxic chemicals reacts with the water to create an acid, resulting in the ocean becoming more acidic.

Hannah Johnstone, a member of Stephen Decatur’s Surf Riders Foundation; an organization focused on the protection of the ocean states that, “to hear about the wildfires in California is devastating.” Johnstone sates, “Serious action needs to take place, or California will continue to stay in this nightmare.”

These fires have had devastating effects upon the citizens of California. Over the years, the locals have been dealing with these repercussions, and have been working to try and reduce this ongoing issue. Humans are not only affected by this, it is also taking a toll on the wild life and the environment around us.