The summer, a vicious cycle of forest fires hit British Columbia. Then in the fall, similar wildfires began in California. When they first began, these fires hit mainly in the northern part of the state. While this is an area that features several important industries, such as wineries and tourism, it is not as heavily populated as other parts of California.
But that has all changed.
Many people at risk
Today, Los Angeles, the second-largest urban centre in the United States, is surrounded by flames. For context, whether it is British Columbia in 2017 or Fort McMurray in 2016, the threatened population measured in the thousands. Metropolitan Los Angeles, however, is home to 17 million people.
Meanwhile, new fires erupted last Friday that have the potential of being blown toward San Diego, home to another 1.4 million people.
Fast moving threat
Why is this happening? After a wet spring, a summer of very dry weather has provided the perfect environment for these wildfires. Then, powerful seasonal winds called the Santa Ana winds are spreading them around the parched forests.
By itself, the largest fire, known as the Thomas Fire, currently covers 230,000 acres, which is more than all of New York City and Boston combined. It is the fifth-largest wildfire in California history. Several other smaller fires cover around another 30,000 acres. Over the course of these fires, well over 100,000 people have been evacuated at different times.
Here to stay?
Firefighters and weather experts feel that this problem is likely to stick around until January. Despite being declared a national emergency, with fires this large, all people can do is try to keep them at bay and wait for them to burn themselves out.