By Kevin Quigley
Wildfires have been a serious issue all throughout California recently, and the 100,000-acre Camp Fire that began on Thursday has been one the latest wildfires to plague the state. The Oroville community was the main recipient of the damage and suffered many causalities. The death toll has risen to at least 23 people and has caused serious property damage as well affecting over 600 homes and over 250 businesses.
The Woolsey Fire, which also began on Thursday, was far less deadly but still caused many issues for those located around the Los Angeles area. The fire raged over 70,000 acres, starting in Ventura County shooting towards the Pacific Ocean and caused over 100,000 homes to be evacuated. Although 100,000 homes had to be cleared, only approximately 100 homes have been destroyed as a result of the fire. The Woolsey Fire has also claimed the life of two people.
Ventura was also the recipient of another wildfire, called the Hill Fire. This 4,500-acre fire began on Thursday like the previous two yet was in a much less densely populated area.
The Thousand Oaks shooting massacre was greatly affected by these fires located in close proximity as the Hill Fire caused a severe delay of between three and seven hours of the victims from the tragedy, and even the gunman’s transportation schedule to the Medical Examiner’s office had to be changed.
Tensions are running exceptionally high for the community of Ventura, as the timing of the two events, a mass shooting, and a severe wildfire, caused a synergistic effect. Many people of this area worried, as Karissa Herbert, a 17-year-old high school student noted during an interview. She said, “What more can we take?” and that is the general sentiment held by the community. But, as they are a very close-knit community, they will bend but not break. Karissa was already stepping up to do her part, as she was interviewed as she was dropping off supplies and dedicated some of her own time at the local teen center. By Friday morning, the center was housing approximately 250 residents from Ventura who had to be evacuated from their homes.
President Trump has since approved a request sent out by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, putting California in a state of emergency declaration for the forest issues. The President then continued to speak his mind through the medium of Twitter, attacking the state of California itself saying that its poor forest management is the reason for the recent outbreak of wildfires. Trump has received much backlash for his comments, with many saying that he should be focusing on the victims and those affected. On Saturday, Trump tweeted out again, yet this time was more cognizant of those in these poor situations and offered sympathy to the victims and first responders.
The outlook going forward seems bleak, as all these fires have started while California enters its rainy season. Due to a high-pressure system that the state is experiencing, the Pacific storms that California is used to have been blocked off. To add to the problem, fire officials say the state is still recovering back from an extreme drought of five years that has left millions of trees weakened and died. Government officials have said that the fire-fueling winds that had been growing these fires would pick up again late Sunday.