Student Opinion: Fires in NorCal Continue Spreading | #students | #parents

By Michelle Moreno Lira

Wildfire season is upon us, and this year it hit California even harder due to COVID-19 induced hardships. The Glass Fire in Napa County has caused mass evacuations and difficult losses by those already affected by the pandemic. 

Residents surrounding Napa County experienced dangerous amounts of smoke inhalation. When the Glass Fire initially started on Sunday, it was met by two other fires surrounding it and caused the flames to quickly rise. 

The excessive heat in Northern California has only strengthened the fire and made it arduous to contain. The overwhelming heat in California has gotten worse due to global climate change. 

Each year fires seem to spread faster and last longer because of dangerous temperatures that keep the fires alive. The toxins caused by fires are extremely dangerous for anyone to inhale and the wind pushes those chemicals to surrounding counties. 

Aside from global warming to worry about, the spread of COVID-19 isn’t slowing down, and its effects continue affecting millions of people.

The pandemic has triggered unemployment and economic struggles for thousands of people across the nation. The fires are another factor for people to worry about as their homes face the risk of being destroyed, forcing homeowners to evacuate. 

For families heavily impacted by COVID-19, their resources are limited, and their ability to rebuild after the fires becomes difficult. 

According to KCRA, as of Wednesday morning the fire “charred 48,440 acres with 2% containment.. some 70,000 people are under evacuation orders.” Firefighters are having difficulties maintaining the fire in one place to prevent it from spreading towards other counties. 

Many firefighters have been working since the beginning of summer due to heatwaves and dry winds significantly experienced in Northern California. 

Firefighters are dedicating their entire days to fighting these worsening fires. As a matter of fact, KCRA approximates that “more than 2,000 personnel are battling the fire.” The endless ferocity of the fires has left many firefighters going from one to the next within days. 

It’s important to recognize the strength that is needed to take on the role of a firefighter. It’s commendable that they’re able to battle large-acre fires, all while making sure people are evacuated and the fires don’t keep rising. 

According to the Guardian, “heat advisories were in effect or pending along about three-quarters of the California coast and many areas had poor air quality due to smoke.” The air quality surrounding Napa and Sonoma counties is affecting residents in next-door counties and is worsening the working conditions for firefighters. 

Every year wildfires hit California hard, but this year it seems to be the cherry on top for residents. Besides the restrictions and difficulties that COVID-19 has caused, residents must also worry about fires and must prepare themselves for its consequences. 

The extreme heat caused by the fires has felt much more drastic during summer with its rising temperatures. COVID-19 already requires people to wear face-coverings, but the dangers firefighters face requires them to wear heavy-duty clothing that prevents them from inhaling toxins or getting burned. 

The roles that firefighters and sheriffs have is keeping people alive and preventing the surrounding nature from being further damaged by the fires. They’re working around the clock in order to prevent other counties from being consumed by fires.

I believe the work they’re doing is underappreciated and greatly overlooked during this climate crisis, especially with the growing number of issues surrounding the U.S right now. 

The pandemic has proven to be a battle within itself. Although wildfire seasons happen every year, this year it’s hitting people harder because it’s another loss to handle. 

In an article by CBS Sacramento, they detail an incident that involved two firefighters trapped by the fires who were forced to deploy ‘fire shelters’ until help came. 

The race to stop fires from spreading isn’t easy; firefighters face the challenge of escaping them before being trapped. Luckily, the two firefighters were rescued, and no casualties were reported. 

Despite those who have followed orders and evacuated, there’s been reports of deaths from a number of people who were consumed by the fires. 

Homes, vineyards and masses of land continue to catch fire and it’s not expected to stop anytime soon. The air quality will only worsen for those around it and its effects will certainly continue as global warming intensifies.

Insurance companies are going to suffer greatly during this wildfire season, and vineyard owners will have to regrow their businesses from the bottom. Homeowners suffering from economic disparities caused by the pandemic will also have another battle to fight. 

This fire season has proven to be difficult for everyone affected, including those fighting them first-hand. Our planet continues to be surrounded by environmental toxins, and wildfires are only making it worse.

I think it’s important to thank those risking their lives to save others and help those who are in need. CalFund has provided different Wildfire Relief Funds to donate to those affected by the NorCal wildfires.


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