If you’ve ever watched a film about gang warfare in South Central LA or investigated the occurrence of earthquakes and the impending geological fracture underneath the state, you may already be convinced that California is a dangerous place to live. Today these threats seem absent as the terror of another disaster continues in the shape of the spreading California wildfires. Already known for its abundant sunshine, sandy deserts, residents wishing for rain and droughts severe enough for hose pipe bans this dry tinderbox is unfortunately a prime place for fires to rage and unfortunately for those who live there, they don’t seem to be stopping.
2018 was a record year for wildfires here, over eight and a half thousand fires burned away at nearly two million acres. These terrifying flares didn’t just work their way through forests but also made their way to areas full of civilians who had to be evacuated. Among the masses of woodland swept up in the flames were countless family homes and even over one hundred people who lost their lives. These fires were not just left to their own devices either, firefighters worked tirelessly to do their best as nature and physics worked against them. Those who survived this terrible torching may have hoped it was over but in the previous weeks we have seen that this unfortunately not the case. Once again as fire season began this year more fires ignited, with over six thousand fires reported already. The bad news is that although the fires haven’t reached the catastrophe level of last year, the constant threat of others starting still loom over those who are trying to live their lives there. As if this wasn’t enough, one of the too little too late preventative measures are taking power away from over a million homes.
One large contributor to the fires last year was the incompetence of electric company PG&E who had been fighting allegations in court over the safety of their lines. Much of the wiring used to connect districts had been shown to be poorly maintained and thus after inspection been found to be a route cause in several fires. After the 2018 wildfires it was shown once again that some major flares were ignited by electrical wires owned by the company. In January this year PG&E filed for bankruptcy (though this also occurred in 2001 but the company still stands) but they still control the flow of electricity to a multitude of homes in California. During the fires this year the company controversially shut off power to houses all over the state, meaning not only were people literally in the dark but those without cellular data were unaware of updates on the fires.
With irresponsible companies, high winds that spread fire faster and increased temperatures as a result of global warming it seems California hasn’t seen the last of these fires. Though the Fire Department is using the latest technology to stay ahead of the flames, fires are cropping up in new areas all the time. With the President’s best advice so far being “Spend a lot of time raking”, Californians may have to find innovative solutions themselves if they want to remain in their state.