California’s El Dorado Fire: A Quick Summary

Diego Hernandez, Editor/Reporter

One of the monumental risks about living in the Golden State is the risk of wildfires, a state that is no stranger to these natural disasters. Despite this, California has been increasing at alarming rates with the trend of these tragedies, the latest being El Dorado. However, this isn’t the average wildfire, as this one is currently the worst in recorded California state history, destroying about 3.4 million acres in it’s path at the time of writing.

 

With a trend increasing over time, how did this become to be, and what does this hold for the future of California? The answer may not be the most appealing.

 

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 5 of the 20 worst wildfires in California’s recorded history have been caused by this year’s El Dorado fires, with 3 fires being in the top 5, and August Complex, also caused by this year’s outbreak, taking the top spot. The fire, as of Sept. 28, 2020, has taken 28 lives throughout the state.

 

As a result of these fires, the United States is currently home to the worst air quality on the planet, with San Francisco recording roughly 30 consecutive days of unhealthy air quality. Days earlier, images circulated throughout the internet of the famous San Francisco skyline turning into a deep orange as a result of the fires. The effects of the fires have ultimately plagued southern Cascadia, with Oregon and Washington reporting poor air quality, plaguing the state with a deep orange sky due to the smoke coming from the fires.

 

One of the most iconic pictures to come from this disaster is from Salem, Oregon, where the sky appeared to turn into a deep red. A UPS truck outside of a house, an empty downtown district, and roughly every corner of the town experienced this phenomenon as a result of the fires. The sky turning a deep red, orange, the smoke being visible from satellite footage, and the sheer gravity of the fires are an immediate alarm to scientists of the results of climate change.

 

Climate change has decimated the state, with the trend of more wildfire outbreaks infesting the state by the year. With this year’s outbreak being 20x larger than last year’s it is no surprise that climate change has come to the forefront of discussion, as those same scientists that are sounding the alarm of these climate disasters, are the same ones living in them.

 

According to Mike Eliason, a veteran firefighter for Santa Barbara, he states that every year, “we tell people that this was the worst year, which then gets beaten by the next year.” This increasing trend is exactly what alarms climate change experts, as according to Park Williams, a bioclimatologist of Columbia University, “warmer temperatures fry the fuels, and all you need from there is a spark.”

 

According to the New York Times, Dr. Williams also published a paper a year prior to the fires, explaining that the “effects of wildfire activity, over the next few decades will likely be larger than the observed influence thus far.” This is slowly becoming a haunting reality as 9 out of the 10 deadliest wildfires in California’s history have come from the last decade alone. According to the Guardian, the Golden State records roughly an increase of 3 degrees fahrenheit yearly, which has caused Death Valley this year to record the hottest temperature ever recorded globally, at a staggering 130 degrees.

 

Additionally, Los Angeles County recorded a record of its own, toppling the previous with a whopping 121 degrees, making it the hottest recorded heat record in the county’s history. As a result of these rising temperatures, scientists predict that the current areas blazed by the fires will increase by 77% at the turn of the century, with the next 15 years raking in about 20% of that increase. With these predictions, it would surely shape the way the country’s west coast will live, potentially causing a mass climate change associated migration in an effort to evade the consequences of climate change. This is surely more prevalent now, as one in four Californians live in a high-risk zone for wildfires.

 

However, some ecologists have proposed a new perspective with these wildfires. Max Moritz of the University of California has proposed to coexist with the wildfires. He has stated that, “it’s not a land management issue, it’s a problem of where and how we build our communities.” He explains that these fires would be better combatted if communities were more clustered together, the building of better evacuation routes and tougher buildings, would decrease the loss of life in the state and entire west coast. California is not the only one at risk, as we have seen a massive influx of wildfires settle in around the globe as a result of rising temperatures, from Australia to the Amazon Rainforest, all of which have had global efforts to combat at all costs.

 

These efforts to combat this year’s fires have been exhausted to their fullest extents. As a result, according to the Guardian, firefighters from Israel and Australia have flown into California in an effort to combat the raging wildfires before they pick up anymore pace. Additionally, according to the Daily Journal, 60 firefighters have flown into California from Tijuana, Mexico in an effort to provide aid against the ongoing wildfires.

 

Now out of all of these atrocities, what caused it?

 

According to CNN, a pyrotechnic device used during a gender reveal party sparked the disaster. Ironically, a trend has sparked the trend of wildfires in the state that prominently shows the effects of human error and global warming at it’s lowest point. This isn’t the first time a gender reveal party has caused a wildfire, as back in 2017 in Arizona, an off-duty border patrol officer shot a gun at a target packed with an explosive as part of a gender reveal party sparked a fire that grew over 47k acres with over 8 million dollars in damages.

 

From one trend to another, one tragedy to another, it’s becoming more apparent that these disasters need to not only be centered to a higher degree, but the glimpse of this is just a window to what the future has to offer for us if we don’t.