California: Too Hot to Handle

     For years now, California has been a hot spot for relentless wildfires during the summer and early fall. And they are only growing each season. Millions of acres of land have been victims of the fires that rip through California leaving nothing in their tracks.

     As California first responders battle countless wildfires throughout the state this year, there are two fires in Northern California that refuse to let up: The Caldor and Dixie Wildfires.

     The Caldor fire, just 65 miles away from the popular vacation destination Lake Tahoe, has been ablaze since Aug. 14. After battling the fire for 31 days, fire fighters have managed to contain only 70 percent of the 219,267-acre fire.

     Stanislaus County Fire Chief Jeff Gregory told ABC10 that one of the counties volunteer fire fighters, Richard Gerety, is suffering severe burns covering 20 percent of his body after battling the Caldor Fire on Aug. 28.

     “Gerety was taken to a burn center for treatment with second and third-degree burns on his hands, the back of his arms, and legs,” Gregory said.

    According to U.S Fire Administration, in 2019 the outdoor fire casualties’ percent of injuries were 10.2, that is more than twice the national average of 4.5.

     As the Caldor fire moved closer to the popular destination of Lake Tahoe, many residents were given evacuation orders. The left their whole lives behind fearing that they may return to a plot of ash and soot.

     Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort took matters into their own hands and turned their snow cannons into oversized hoses soaking all of their equipment on the hill such as buildings, ski lifts and propane tanks.

     Resort Manager John Rice told the Chronicle “It came in from the west side, almost a bullseye right towards us, this big wall of fire.”

     The resort did acquire some property damage, but because of their idea to turn the snow blowers to towards their infrastructures, all buildings were saved.

     According to Cal Fire “81 structures have been damaged, and 1,003 structures have been destroyed.” These structures include but are not limited to residential and commercial buildings. The cause to this fire is still under investigation.

     Unlike the Caldor fire threatening the nearby Lake Tahoe region in just the last 30 days, the Dixie Fire has been ablaze since July 13 covering just under a million acres of land over a 63-day period. Approximately 960,470 acres have been affected by this fire and only 75 percent of this fire has been contained as of Sept. 15.

     If this fire continues to grow, it will soon be designated as a gigafire. This term is hardly used, for many wildfires never consume more than a million acres.

    According to The Washington Post article “Anatomy of a wildfire: How the Dixie Fire became the Largest Blaze of a Devastating Summer” the Dixie Fire has now burned “an area larger than New York City, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles combined.”

     This fire is about 15 miles away from the town of Paradise, California. The Paradise wildfire broke headlines last year after burning the whole city down in less than 24 hours.

     Residents within this near million-acre radius have suffered through unexpected evacuations, poor air quality and the uncertainty if their home will be affected.

     CAL Fire has reported that so far “95 structures have been damaged and 1,329 destroyed.”

     These two fires are still not 100 percent contained and first responders are working around the state to not only put out wildfires, but also prevent future ones. There is still no reasoning as to how these fires have stared, but as a whole many people blame the changing climate.

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