By Bryan Hart

In early October, a series of wildfires broke out in Northern California. Yet, it is not unusual for this area of the country to have wildfires because of the severe drought and dry air that plagues this region, but these fires have spread throughout the state unlike many in recent history.

According to a recent article published on CNN, as of October 13th, the fires have destroyed 6,000 buildings and killed over 36 people. However, the death toll continues to rise “making this outbreak one of the deadliest in state history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.” These fires have spread so quickly that firefighters have been unable to contain them to the extent that they are usually are able to. As of Friday, October 13th, the “Wildfires have burned more than 221,000 acres throughout California” and “17 wildfires remain.”

This sort of destruction has forced thousands of people across the state to evacuate their homes and abandon their belongings. Santa Rose has been absolutely devastated by the fires. According to its Mayor Chris Coursey “More than 2,800 residences in Santa Rosa have been destroyed by wildfires.” And “The number of destroyed structures in the state went up Friday by 2,200 to 5,700, Cal Fire said.” Peoples businesses and homes are being burnt to the ground and there is nothing they can do about it. Also, “Sadly, due to the fact that these fires are spreading so quickly the elderly portion of the population has been affected the most.”

For example, “The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office identified 10 victims Thursday, and most of them were over 70. The youngest was 57, and the oldest was 95.” These people are unable to evacuate their homes like the rest of the population and just have to hope that they get lucky with avoiding the fires. Even the younger portion of the population has had to evacuate their homes with little resources because of how quickly these fires are ripping through towns.

The article gives an example of a couple in Yuba county who went through a traumatic ordeal in evacuating their home. “Mariano and Christa Domingo saw the fire approach their fence Sunday night, and they drove away with only one emergency oxygen tank for Christa, who has lung problems, CNN affiliate KOVR reported. “She was thinking we had to pack up things, and I said, ‘No, we don’t have any time,’ ” her husband told the TV station. This is just one of many examples of how devastating these fires have been and how they are changing thousands of people’s lives forever.

While these fires are occurring 3,000 miles away from Rhode Island, they are still affecting the Bryant community. There are many students from California who attend Bryant. This is putting them in a really tough situation because this situation adds so much stress and anxiety onto their already demanding schedules.

For some of them, they cannot even stay in contact with their families because the fires have destroyed power grids and some areas have been without electricity for days. These fires will continue to have huge ramifications on thousands of people’s lives.