California’s Wildfires

Global News


Arabella Brown, Staff Writer

So far, 2020 has been a year that seems to be straight out of an apocalyptic novel, from pandemics to protests, and from deaths of many beloved public figures to the threat of World War III. One of the first significant events of the year was the Australian wildfires. Now the news of destructive wildfires is back, only this time they’re in California. The state of California is no stranger to wildfires, as they’ve been happening for as long as anyone can remember. However, it seems that they’ve become more prominent in the news in the past decade and occurring more often. In 2019, only about 270,000 acres of California were burned due to wildfires, the lowest number in nearly a decade. However, so far, in 2020 alone, almost 3.5 million acres have burned, over 3% of the entire state. (P.C.

One of the most discussed points of the 2020 wildfires is the way they were started. While there were already small fires across the state, the one that set in motion what is now happening began on September 5, 2020, in Northern California by a device used at a gender reveal party. This was immediately controversial because two years ago, a similar story happened in Arizona, which caused a lot of discussion over whether there should be repercussions. Psalms Johnson (12) says, “I think there should be a consequence for people who start wildfires whether accident or not. They should know to be cautious of what they do.” Another student, Deanna Doyle (11), says, “ I think if it’s accidental, there should be a punishment but one that isn’t as severe as if it was on purpose. Say a fine, for example, or community service or something like that. Something that you could get as a punishment for maybe a speeding ticket but not like years of jail time to be served.” Another student, Isabella Nazario (11), thinks there should be some sort of appropriate punishment to set an example to others that would influence others to be more careful. So far, nearly 3.5 million acres of Northern California have been burned or are still burning, and the fires show no sign of slowing down. Of the top 20 largest fires in California history, six have occurred in 2020 alone. One of these fires, the August Complex Fire, is the largest and most destructive fire in the state’s history. Across social media, videos and pictures have been shared of the sky-colored a dark orange, and they honestly look like something straight out of an apocalypse movie. National parks across the state have been closed to all citizens, and life seems to be at a horrific standstill in many areas located close to the fires. (P.C. The Desert Sun)

So far, it’s estimated that about 26 people have lost their lives, including the recent announcement of the death of a firefighter on the frontlines. There are currently about 18,500 firefighters working to contain the fires as best as possible, but it is proving to be a difficult task. The September 5th gender reveal party set fire to about 10,000 acres of the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, California. While it by no means caused every fire raging across California right now, it does bring into question what will be done to prevent fires caused by similar reasons. In the past few weeks, news outlets, social media users, and others have been tossing around the question, “Should there be a punishment for accidents like this?” Some people believe there should be to set an example to other people that they need to be careful, while others believe there shouldn’t be because it was a disastrous mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. The debate of punishment rages on, and so do the fires. While the California wildfire season is March through October, there are fears it will continue far longer because wildfires can occur at any time. As of now, we have no way of knowing when the fires will be contained.