DEC 08, 2017 9:40 AM PST

Wildfires still blaze in California

Just this week alone California has lost 141,000 acres to wildfires, according to Cal Fire officials. Six wildfires (named Thomas, Rye, Skirball, Creek, Liberty, and Lilac) have ravaged the state, with the two most recent striking the southern part of the state. About 45 miles north of San Diego, the Lilac Fire caught two victims in its 4,100-acre blaze. Authorities have not publicized the state of the individuals. The fire also wreaked havoc on several equestrian facilities in the area and officials report that 25 horses died in a burning barn.

The southern California wildfires could be seen by the International Space Station crew from their vantage point in low Earth orbit. Randy Bresnik/NASA

Over 190,000 residents have been evacuated from their houses and roughly 5,700 firefighters are working to contain the wildfires. Hundreds to thousands of buildings have burned throughout the state with 500 confirmed as “destroyed” and firefighters and emergency personnel are working round the clock to save as many homes as possible. Nevertheless, CNN reports that those fighting the fires are suffering from exhaustion, smoke inhalation, and airborne embers.

"Honestly, the firefighters are taking a beating, but we have to acknowledge the residents because they're taking a beating, too, but they're cooperating with our orders," said Thomas Kruschke, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

Now that President Trump has declared a federal emergency in California, more federal aid will be sent to the state and hopefully relief agencies will be able to better coordinate amongst themselves. The following updates have been provided as of 10:45 AM this morning from CBS:

  • Creek Fire: 15,323 acres, 40 percent contained
  • Rye Fire: 6,049 acres, 35 percent contained
  • Thomas Fire: 132,000 acres, 10 percent contained
  • Skirball Fire: 475 acres, 30 percent contained
  • Lilac Fire: 4,100 acres, zero percent contained
  • Liberty Fire: 300 acres, 10 percent contained

Dry weather and strong winds in the region have made the wildfires particularly dangerous and winds could reach to Category 1 hurricane gusts in some areas. According to Cal Fire, the Lilac Fire is the most destructive ever in December, a classification based on the number of buildings destroyed.

To many Californians, this is climate change glaring straight in their faces. December is usually the peak of the rainy season and instead the region is still scarily dry. Los Angeles rainfall has been 94% below normal since October, reports Rolling Stone, and there’s no guarantee that it will stop before the holidays.

Photo: NBC Los Angeles

Sources: CNN, CBS, Rolling Stone

About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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