Major wildfires continue to spread across California

California wildfires cause distress for HHS families

By Amber Birrell

Across the U.S. families have been displaced and homes have been destroyed by the record-breaking fires throughout California, the Los Angeles Times reported.

It has been two months since the first major wildfire broke out in California this year and they have only gotten worse. According to Cal Fire, there are currently 20 major wildfires burning across California, and over half of these fires are under 85% contained.

 The New York Times reported that one of the main causes of the fires is California’s dry and hot climate. Additionally, some of the fires were caused by people creating sparks in the forest.

Among many of the families who have been affected by the fires, Deana Arnold, a long-term science substitute, was close enough to the fires that she and her family had to prepare for evacuation.

“We were definitely in an area where if the wind shifted and the fire crossed [highway] 17, we would have needed to evacuate,” Arnold said in a Zoom interview. “We went through the process of making sure we had ‘go bags’ put together that had a change of clothes, a flashlight and stuff [needed to pick up and go]. We also packed a larger bag with clothes that we took to a friend’s house.” 

Smoke covers the view of the mountains and ocean from Arnold’s home. (Photo by Deana Arnold)

Luckily, though, Arnold and her family did not need to evacuate their home.

Currently, according to Cal Fire, 31 lives have been lost to the fires. 

Freshman Gabriella Fourkas said in a Zoom interview that although the fires have not affected her area, the fires have caused her to worry about her relatives who live in fire risk zones. Her  relatives, who lost their home to the California wildfires in 2017, are once again close to the fires this year. 

“I’m really nervous because [the fires] are really unpredictable,” Fourkas said. “There’s always that chance [something could happen].”

These fires have brought massive amounts of smoke all over the Bay Area and, according to the CDC,  smoke is harmful to human health because it makes us more vulnerable to respiratory infections. 

Riva Shukla, a sophomore with asthma said in a Zoom interview the smoke has been affecting her day to day life.

“It’s just harder to breathe. I can’t walk outside for a long time, especially having to wear a mask,” Shukla said. “I try not to go out as much and avoid the air especially when [the air quality] was really bad.” 

Along with causing smoke to spread all over California, the wildfires have burnt over 4 million acres of land and 9,000 structures. 

Even though the fires are still spreading throughout California, Arnold said she feels so grateful her family is safe. She is said her first-hand experience has allowed her to empathize with other families who have not been as lucky, and she is hoping everyone near fire risk zones remain safe.

“There are so many people who [have] lost so much and we are really lucky,” Arnold said. “My heart goes out to the people who lost homes, then children who lost homes, that’s serious trauma and I really hope that they can get help. I can’t even imagine what that would be like so I feel very fortunate. I hope that I’ve learned how to keep my family safe and I wish the best for those people who lost homes.”