While we might be on the tail end of this recent headliner, it is with no doubt that California (and the rest of the world) has witnessed one of the worst wildfires in its history. What started out as a rage of flames out on our West Coast in British Columbia was followed by a similar rage of flames in California to our southern neighbours. Although the two blazes are not directly related to each other, we find ourselves revolving around the one common thread in these scenarios: climate change.

Even though this is not a Canadian issue (thankfully!) it is important that we keep an eye out for the health of our planet. California’s 2018 wildfire season was the deadliest in its history. According to statistics, there has been a total of 7,983 fires burning an area of 1,824,505 acres so far. Very few fires are still ongoing and not 100 percent contained so this information is subject to change in the near future. However, the estimated cost due to damage has surpassed USD $2.975 billion. This monetary value accounts for the money spent on operations and costs due to fire suppression.

These fires first started out as small blazes in early August 2018. It wasn’t until a few months later, in November 2018, that fiercely strong winds caused another round of fires to suddenly break out in The Golden State. While residents claim that living in California means having fire “become a part of your life”, it goes without saying that in recent years, the wildfire seasons are growing longer and stronger. In addition, rainfall this year seems to be falling 50 to 70 percent short which doesn’t help this dire situation. On the other hand, temperatures have sky rocketed: with state temperatures reading some of the highest numbers on record.

With such a devastating wildfire season like this one the outbreak of multiple different fires is the ultimate contributor. Unfortunately, in this case the Carr Fire is one that is most memorable this 2018 wildfire season. Sparked by the mechanical failure of a vehicle the fire made its way up the highway as it crept close to residential areas. All it took was the rim of a trailer to scrape the hot asphalt after a tire failure, according to CNN. What followed was catastrophic. This fire alone is responsible for the deaths of seven individuals, three who’s heartfelt story was covered on national television. As a matter of fact, in just 10 days–from July 23 to August 2–the fire spread from a total area of 1,437 acres to a total area of 126,913 acres. Here is a link to an image of the spreading fire documented day by day with more information on the Carr Fire. While it was 100 percent contained on August 30, there is no way of certainly knowing whether it was the source for other outbursts as well.

In terms of the damage to our planet, the summation of the wildfires of this seasons’ carbon emissions is equivalent to that of a years worth of power pollution to the same state. Roughly 68 million tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide has been released and environmentalists are growing increasingly concerned. While the almost all of the wildfires for this season are 100 contained there are worries for the outbreak of fires elsewhere, potentially capable of starting another terrifying season.

Although most of the fires have thankfully been dealt with, the prospective measures are the stages of rebuilding what has been lost. With homes that have been levelled by the fire this poses no simple task. Nevertheless, efforts are continuously being made to reclaim what once existed. To end, let’s just hope that these same homes just won’t have to go through the process of being rebuilt again next year.

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