A Country on Fire
As fire conditions intensified in Northern California, U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly update compiled by several federal agencies, said 75% of California is experiencing drought-like conditions. Wildfires have burned across a dozen states, where more than 100 large fires burned more than 5 million acres. Some 9,600 fires in the state have scorched more than four million acres of land in California, displaced tens of thousands of people and caused the deaths of dozens of individuals while destroying more than 10,400 structures. Although the worst of fire season should be officially over, new fires continue to break out. The Airport Fire started on December 1 in Riverside county and burned 1,087 acres, before being contained. The Bond Fire started on December 2 in Orange county and burned 7,375 acres. Major fires in California that have been previously contained: the CZU /Lightning Complex (San Mateo, Santa Cruz counties); the LNU Lightning Complex (Lake, Sonoma, Napa, Solano counties); and the SCU Lightning Complex (Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara counties). The August Complex Fire, the largest in California’s history, consumed more than 817,000 acres. The Glass Fire destroyed wineries and many homes in Napa Valley. Another fire, the Bobcat fire raged in Los Angles County.
Hundreds of homes, businesses and other buildings have burned to the ground, and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to evacuate as hot, dry and windy weather across the West left parts of California, Oregon and Washington under siege from this unprecedented fire season. And then massive fires emerged in Colorado. The Cameron Peak Fire was the largest in the state’s history. Entire communities have been obliterated in some states while smoke and ash made the air dangerous to breathe. The fires have been described as “apocalyptic” as the threats from climate change become all too real for many residents of the three states. At the same time California is also working to slow a resurgence of the Global COVID Pandemic.
Americares Emergency Team continues to respond. View our latest response update.
CalFire firefighters from Santa Cruz work to contain fire near a home on Bonny Doon Road while fighting the CZU August Lightning Complex fire in Bonny Doon northwest of Santa Cruz. The fire was sparked by lightning and has burned throughout broad regions of rural San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. (Photo by David Royal)