Wildfires in California Continue to Cause Concern


There are currently more than a dozen wildfires still active in California, and roughly 11,00 firefighters are still fighting the flames and searching for missing victims. So far at least 40 individuals have died, and there are still more than 200 individuals that are missing.

According to CNN, an update from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported that roughly 217,000 acres of land have been burned, and about 5,700 buildings are in ruins due to the fires.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported the wildfires are among the deadliest in California history. According to Gov. Jerry Brown, "This is truly one of the greatest, if not the greatest tragedy that California has ever faced."

Firefighters were able to make progress fighting the fires in Northern California on Saturday due to the cooler temperatures and light breezes. However, fire officials are still concerned they will face challenges due to the predicted increase in humidity levels and temperatures.

Santa Rosa, which is located in Sonoma County and has a population of about 175,000, was one of the areas that had the most damage. The city lost an estimated 2,834 homes and other buildings. According to Mayor Chris Coursey, the city's fire station and other important buildings were destroyed.

The fires ignited on October 8th and October 9th, and there have been numerous blazes that have spread while others have been contained. The start of the wildfires is currently under investigation.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said it is vital to be sure there isn't any violations of defensible space, which is the required space that is between a structure and undeveloped land. Defensible space is meant to prevent the spread of wildfire, which is difficult when homes are on hillsides, due to fire moving rapidly uphill. Furthermore, homeowners are reluctant to cut down old oak tress that give the region its character.

According to experts, vineyards in Napa and Sonoma counties have aided in defensible space. Richard Minnich, professor of Ecology at the University of California Riverside, explained that grapevines don't burn as quickly as other vegetation, so the vineyards helped slow the progression of the wildfires.

Last winter, California experienced a significant amount of rain, which caused an abundance of plant growth. When certain types of grass dries out in the fall, it can cause fires in lower elevations. According to Lynne Tolmachoof, a California Fire spokesperson, "Those type of fires typically would start, they would burn quickly and they would burn fast and generally are put out quickly." However, she went to to explain those types of fires can be very dangerous in residential areas like the fires seen this week.