California has experienced many wildfires in the past, but few, if any, have been as deadly as the recent Camp Fire. The future regarding this disastrous event is uncertain. The devastating wildfire burned for over two weeks, killed more than 85 people, and burdened thousands of lives. It will be remembered for many years to come.
On November 8, 2018, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, high temperatures and strong winds formed the deadliest wildfire in California history. The fire spread at a rapid pace, eventually obliterating 153,000 acres of land north of Sacramento.
Tens of thousands of local residents became homeless following this wildfire. The parking lots of local businesses were forced to become temporary homes for those trying to escape the deadly flames. Housing and real estate in California have always been a competitive business. However, following the fire, both have gotten out of hand. Housing sales in places not badly affected by the fire, such as Sacramento, have increased nearly 86 percent since the disaster. This is causing a shortage of available housing for residents who are willing and able to pay for it. The number of homes on the market in badly affected areas has gone down almost 23 percent. Many residents have no other choice than to leave the state and relocate.
Over the past 40 years, the length of the wildfire season has gone up by over 20 percent. Wildfires are becoming bigger and costlier each year. California’s most recent wildfire, Camp Fire, caused nearly $13 billion in damage. Consequently, this wildfire, along with others, has recently become the focus of a major debate about climate change. Though the majority of evidence points toward the Camp Fire being caused by harsh weather, President Donald Trump argues the fire was able to grow so greatly in severity due to poor forest management. He continues to threaten the removal of federal funding from the state of California. It’s easy to think that stronger management of the forests and closer monitoring of littering can help mitigate these fires, but many suspect a stronger force at work.
Climate change is thought to have increased the severity of many other recent natural disasters such as hurricanes Michael and Florence. The deadliest wildfire in California history is no exception. Many people are connecting the Camp Fire with climate change due to the significant rise in temperatures this year. The bizarre weather, mixed with hotter than average climate, combined to cause this cataclysmic event.
Wildfires are a serious issue. They not only destroy lives, but they also carry a heavy cost. Improved forest management may be a partial solution to a much bigger problem, but something needs to change regarding the way the Earth is cared for. Climate change is a huge issue as of late, and this wildfire is just one indicator that something is seriously wrong.
[Sources: marketwatch.com; washingtonpost.com; forbes.com; chicoer.com]