A Country on Fire
While weather conditions have improved in parts of the American West, wildfires continue to burn with devastating impact particularly in California. Officials there warn that hot and dry conditions combined with intense winds threaten to reinvigorate what has already been the worst fire season in state history. Wildfires have burned across a dozen states, where more than 100 active large fires have burned more than 5 million acres. Some 8,800 fires in the state have already scorched more than four million acres of land in California, displaced tens of thousands of people and caused the deaths of 31 individuals while destroying more than 10,400 structures. The worst of fire season is still runs through the end of October with high winds and dry conditions creating more danger. Three major fire systems burning in California have been 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, and continues to burn. The Glass Fire emerged quickly and destroyed wineries and many homes in Napa Valley. Another fire, the Bobcat fire raged in Los Angles County. And now two more fires in Southern California burn out of control and have forced the evacuation of another 100,000 people.
Hundreds of homes, businesses and other buildings have burned to the ground, dozens of deaths have been reported, many more are missing and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to evacuate as hot, dry and windy weather across the West has left parts of California, Oregon and Washington under siege from what is being called an unprecedented fire season, far surpassing any season on record. And now Colorado is in the midst of massive fires. The Cameron Peak Fire is 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 are being 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.
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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)