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CALIFORNIA CATCHES ENVIRONMENTAL CATASTROPHE

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Over the course of two months, six fires have spread through California, which has  burned 141,000 acres of land.

 

200,000 citizens in the Los Angeles area had to evacuate after their homes were threatened by the flames. In the Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, 1,063 structures were demolished. “My family in Santa Barbara were evacuated from their homes, but luckily no one was hurt and their homes are okay,” said eleventh grader Mikaela Villalpando.

 

Many factors  are to blame for the fires. The Santa Ana winds. They were unusually strong around the time the fires started. The winds and dry vegetation caused the fires to spread across hills a lot faster than they normally would have.

 

California also had far less rainfall in 2017 than back in 2014-2015 which gave us 8.51 inches, (California storms: This rainy season now ranks 2nd all time in 122 years of records, 2017), contributing to the dried out land. Some California residents believe the fires were not a result of climate change, but rather a result of the climate in general.  “I think the fires were a result of the weather, Santa Ana winds and dryness, but not necessarily climate change,” said English teacher Lindsay Ten.

 

However, Villalpando doesn’t agree with Ten about the climate change. “I think climate change had a huge part in the fires, in my APES course we’ve been learning a lot about climate change and its effects on the environment & it would make a lot of sense for it to have been a  result of this,” she contributed.

 

The terrain in schored areas is now dry and burnt. Junior, Maireen Barnachea, explains, “This will greatly affect the environment, considering factors such as air pollution or areas that caught on fire and the animals that live within that environment.” Casey Hall-Landers, also a junior, commented, “Since they’re forest fires, they cause deforestation, so some habitats will be burned and hurt the native animals.”

Although it’s been a little more than a month since the major fires were active, communities are still suffering from the aftermath. Resident’s had to flee from their homes in the dead of night as the fires scorched their neighborhoods, forcing them to leave behind personal belongings in the process of getting loved ones out as quickly as possible, “As long as I got my kids, husband, and pets out I would be okay, but as soon as I wasn’t with my kids and dealing with the necessary steps to survive and handle the situation I would be devastated and in tears, I think. I don’t know for sure as I have never experienced this kind of tragedy,” Ten stated.

Mario Tama
LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 05: The Creek Fire burns on a hillside in the Shadow Hills neighborhood on December 5, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Strong Santa Ana winds are rapidly pushing multiple wildfires across the region, expanding across tens of thousands of acres and destroying hundreds of homes and structures. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Honors Chemistry and AP Environmental Science teacher, Rebecca Babbey, has prepared for a fire in the future, “I am a very prepared individual, and we have backpacks for each of us (and our pets) ready to go, along with first aid supplies, medication, important documents, and our pets. If this horrible situation were to happen to me, we would be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.”  Babbey was not surprised of the wildfires and how severe they got, but was devastated to see the loss of life and properties of many.

 

Due to these fires, cleaning up the several affected neighborhoods is a chore, and many organizations are doing as much as they can to help the communities. Piles of ashes are everywhere (in the streets, on hills, on unaffected buildings). This brings a big worry of mudslides if it were to rain in those areas. Aside from this and the loss of homes, everything is starting to go back to how they were. Soon, families will be able to return to their homes and continue with lives.

 

You can donate to GoFundMe to help victims, or other charities such as Red Cross, Thomas Fire Funds, and YouCaring.

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CALIFORNIA CATCHES ENVIRONMENTAL CATASTROPHE