How Much Fire Damage is Too Much For California?

By: SOPHIA PACHECO

As the Lightning Complex Fires’ damage radius grows to 303,155 acres and counting, more and more people are losing their homes, and sometimes(though rarely), their lives as they evacuate their neighborhoods. 2020 has already been a devastating year for the whole world, with Covid-19 quarantines, small businesses shutting down, freak weather phenomena like hurricanes, and the explosion at Lebanon. And it’s about to get a lot worse for California. So the question remains: How much more of this can the golden state take? 

California has already experienced several catastrophic fires over the last decade, including the “Camp fire” of 2018 in Butte County, Thomas fire of 2017 in Santa Barbara, the Rush fire of 2012 in Lassen, and the Mendocino Complex fire of 2018 in various countries. According to the fire facts and statistics site known as iii.org(https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-wildfires), “a total of 2,623,373 acres, that’s over 2 million, were burned in the largest fires in California history in the period of 2000 to 2020.” This calculation doesn’t even include the smaller fires that still packed a punch in those years. And our state is still burning to this day.  

It’s a wonder that California is able to keep its namesake, ‘the Golden State’, when it is constantly ravaged by wildfires and the enormous losses of property and economical instability that come with it. “California has an average of 202,000 acres burned in the last five years,” says Cal Fire, the organization that keeps track of the wildfires in CA. And all those burning acres means that many structures in the Bay Area and beyond have been destroyed by these maelstroms. The financial loss in the year 2018 alone totalled up to “24+billion dollars” according to iii.org, which would’ve been a complete devastation on California’s economy. The communities burned in that year are still struggling to return, and the banks are still loaning from other states as a result. 

So how much can this state take? Apparently, a lot. California has been able to recover, however slowly, from the wildfire outbreaks that now come every year due to climate change. But like with any state’s communities and geography, there’s only so much the forests and cities can take before becoming exhausted of their resources, like a limited health bar. No one knows what exactly is CA’s breaking point, but if the fires continue to worsen, people fear that they will soon know what that is. California’s various counties can only hope to prevent more fire disasters to lessen the effects they have on the state’s economy and the communities CA residents live in.

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