At least six people have died and tens of thousands have been asked to evacuate from their residence as wildfires in California continue to burn at an unprecedented rate, breaking state records of decades.
Wildfires are a common occurrence in the state, including the neighboring states of Idaho and Alaska, but the effects of the fires have become more devastating owing to a number of factors, including climate change.
Coupled with the already overwhelming timing, thanks to the pandemic, the effects of the fires are exaggerated manifolds.
So far in this year’s wildfires, more than 771,000 hectors of land have been compromised, a size equivalent to the Rhode Islands, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom said in a press conference on Friday.
Besides, as many as 175,000 people have been told to evacuate as close to 12,000 lightings have sent fires raging on the drylands and threaten small cities that come in the way.
Since Friday, there are hundreds of wildfires raging across Northern and Central California, which have doubled in size, Reuters reports. The fires have burnt more than 40 civilians and firefighters and destroyed more than 500 homes.
In Santa Cruz, a small city in the Central Coast of California fires was reported to have come as near as within a mile of the University of California Santa Cruz campus and the city’s 650k residents were asked to keep ‘go-bags’ ready, Reuters reports.
Swatches of fires have also deeply affected the state’s iconic Redwood trees, some more than 2000-years-old. Social media footages and pictures show fires burning in the footbed of the giant trees in the Big Basin, California’s oldest state park.
Gov. Newsom said some of the recent fires have started from lightning strikes and the state’s resources are strained beyond the capacity, forcing to urge for help from as far as Canada and Australia.
“We are not naive by any stretch about how deadly this moment is and why it is essential … that you heed evacuation orders and that you take them seriously,” Newsom told the Californians at a news briefing.
Dark skies and haze were felt as far as San Francisco, social media posts confirmed, and in Devonport, smokes turned the skies orange, as plumes of ash and smokes have polluted skies many hundred miles away from the fire-zone.
“California is witnessing an explosion of wildfire activity during a pandemic as state resources are already strained. The federal government must step in and help,” Senator Kamala Harris wrote on Twitter.
This year’s wildfires have perplexed fires scientists the Guardian noted since the peak fire season usually starts in Autumn. The powerful offshore winds in Autumn stroke the embers into infernos, but this year the case unfolded much earlier.
Such unprecedented levels of wildfires breaking the conventions of nature once again brings the bane of climate change to the fore.
“If you are in denial about climate change, come to California,”
-Gov. Newsom said in a video recording made for the Democratic Convention on Thursday.