THE LA FIRES EXPLAINED
HOW OFTEN DO THESE BLAZES OCCUR?
There are on average five a year, but in 2018 alone, 1.3 million acres have been destroyed. California’s most recent is the deadliest ever and has been officially declared a major disaster.
HOW DO THEY START AND SPREAD?
Wildfires start in areas prone to high temperatures, and can be sparked by tossed cigarette butts or downed power lines. Strong winds help them gain momentum. The recent Camp Fire spread quickly, burning 20,000 acres in just 14 hours.
WHO IS TO BLAME?
It’s unclear but President Trump Tweeted, “So many lives [are] lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests”. Two local gas and electric companies face potential investigation over a reported power-line outage that allegedly occurred on the morning the blaze started.
WHAT’S THE HUMANITARIAN COST?
Shockingly, over 80 people have lost their lives and 699 were missing as Closer went to press. With over 10,000 households destroyed, families have camped in car parks and designated shelters. The total cost to the State, insurers and homeowners is expected to top £15 billion.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT?
There’s very poor air quality, causing concern for people’s health. Officials announced that respiratory hospitalisations have surged and, in San Francisco, the smoke was so thick that schools were closed. Local wildlife has been badly affected, too. Hundreds of animals have been rescued with extensive burns and injuries.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
Donate to American Red Cross to support the people affected by the California wildfires, or VCA Charities, who are fundraising for displaced animals. Visit Redcross.org and Vcacharities.org