Wild­fires in Ca­li­for­nia

Le Délit - - News -

Na­bee­la Ji­vraj

The Mcgill Dai­ly

content­war­ning:death

Over 1,000 people re­main mis­sing and at least 81 have died as a re­sult of recent Ca­li­for­nia wild­fires. Re­co­ve­ry crews in Pa­ra­dise, Ca­li­for­nia, are still sear­ching for vic­tims, while di­sas­ter re­lief or­ga­ni­za­tions have set up sites for cri­sis re­lief.

The fires in nor­thern Ca­li­for­nia, consi­de­red to be the dead­liest in the state’s his­to­ry, erup­ted on No­vem­ber 8, cau­sing thou­sands to flee their homes. An es­ti­ma­ted 13,000 homes and ano­ther 15,000 buil­dings have been des­troyed.

In ad­di­tion to work by di­sas­ter and re­co­ve­ry crews, fi­re­figh­ting ef­forts have been un­der­way for se­ve­ral weeks. Ci­vi­lian fi­re­figh­ters have been joi­ned by over 200 pri­so­ners in Ca­li­for­nia’s Conser­va­tion Camp pro­gram. In­mates are com­pen­sa­ted $1.45 a day on ave­rage. Ca­li­for­nia has a long­stan­ding his­to­ry of re­lying on its pri­son po­pu­la­tion to as­sist with fi­re­figh­ting, da­ting back to World War II. For more in­for­ma­tion on the prac- tice of ex­ploi­ta­tive in­mate la­bour, see page 22. It is es­ti­ma­ted that 40 per cent of fi­re­figh­ters are in­mates from these wor­king pro­grams.

Pri­vate fi­re­figh­ters have been em­ployed by in­su­rance com­pa­nies and ce­le­bri­ties, such as Kim Kar­da­shian and Ka­nye West, to sal­vage ex­pen­sive homes in the area. The use of pri­vate fi­re­figh­ting ser­vices, in contrast to the use of pri­son la­bour to quell fires, has cal­led in­to ques­tion how di­vi­sions of la­bour exa­cer­bate in­equa­li­ties in the face of na­tu­ral di­sas­ters.

Rain storms this past week have brought dead­ly “Camp Fire” close to contain­ment af­ter se­ve­ral weeks of bur­ning. With some re­lief, au­tho­ri­ties are pu­shing eva­cuees out of tent ci­ties, tel­ling them to seek re­fuge in shel­ters that are al­rea­dy full. Ho­we­ver the struggle is not over yet as the rain­fall is al­so war­ran­ting flash flood ad­vi­so­ries for about one mil­lion people in the area of Pa­ra­dise.

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