On Sunday, several fires ignited throughout the northern region of California. Since then, 140,000 acres of land in have been burned by fires that resulted from dry conditions and heavy wind gusts.
Beginning on Sunday night, the fires swept through neighborhoods of people who were sleeping. Residents were forced to run out of their homes in the middle of the night, in many cases not being able to get into their cars, in order to flee the flames. So far, 21 people have been killed and 500 have been reported as missing in the fires that have left several counties in northern California in an apocalyptic state.
Heavy gusts of wind and extremely dry conditions are what caused the forest fires to grow so quickly and cause so much devastation. The situation isn’t going to improve in the near future, either. The fires are still actively growing, the winds are not supposed to let up anytime soon and there is no rain in the forecast for the next few days.
As of Wednesday, more than 20,000 people have been ordered to evacuate and those staying behind or not under imminent threat have been encouraged to pack bags with essentials and be ready to flee at any time. Those who already left their homes in Sonoma County have not been allowed to return.
The fires are some of the worst the state of California has seen in its history. It is clear that man-made climate change is the ulterior cause of these wildfires. Greenhouse gasses that are released in mass by humans into the atmosphere have trapped heat in the atmosphere, which has lead to higher temperatures. These higher temperatures have made the droughts in California even worse. Combine that with California’s uncharacteristically wet weather in 2016 and you get lush vegetation that was dried out by the drought and served as perfect fuel for a monster forest fire.
As of Wednesday night, the wildfires still raged through northern California and aren’t expected to let up for a few days. The death toll is supposed to rise as firefighters and officials gain access to areas that are not yet safe to enter.
Here are some resources to help the victims of the wildfires: