Worst fire season in California history: 1 million people without power and 90,000 told to evacuate

Photo courtesy of Cal Fire Updates

Photo courtesy of Cal Fire Updates

Natalia Kirilova, Reporter

California has been dealing with its worst wildfire season in its history over the last few months. Many of the worst fires have been sparked by lightning strikes, and in particular, the El Dorado Fire, was started at a gender reveal party in early September. The fires that have afflicted California have been difficult to contain, and it appears that the fire season will only get worse from here.

As of October 18, 2020, there are about 7,700 firefighters on the frontline of 20 wildfires across California according to the Californian Government. Dry weather, unusually warm temperatures, and no sign of rain throughout the next week pose a concern for firefighters. Approximately 9,200 structures have been affected, and the fatality number has reached 31 people.

Over 8,600 wildfires have been reported to burn over 4.1 million acres in California since the beginning of 2020 according to the California Government, with September and October proving to be the roughest months thus far. With November, one of the most difficult months for fires in California historically, quickly approaching, scientists suspect the end is yet to come. 

Extreme winds are soon to plague California, which are set to be the strongest winds California has faced all year according to AP News. These winds are considered a huge danger, as experts fear the gusts will only spread the wildfires more. As a preemptive measure, Pacific Gas & Electric, the country’s largest utility, cut power for approximately 1 million people on Sunday in northern California, in hopes of protecting equipment from catching fire according to Apple News. This is the fifth time this year that this utility has been forced to shut off power to its customers, as a hope to lower the risk of equipment and power lines igniting blazes amongst the dry and windy weather conditions.

Approximately 60,000 people in Southern California have faced evacuation orders since Monday, October 26. By Tuesday, this number grew to 90,000 people as a result of the fires almost doubling in size overnight, amidst the brutal winds and dry conditions.

California has become much drier due to climate change, and as a result, trees and vegetation have become more susceptible to catching fire. According to the New York Times, experts believe that the fires have only gotten larger throughout the years as the burning of fossil fuels has caused warmer and drier conditions than normal in the state.