Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

2,500 Forced to Flee as California Wildfire Season Heats Up

Climate
2,500 Forced to Flee as California Wildfire Season Heats Up
A strike team works on the Creek Fire in Shasta County. Shasta-Trinity National Forest Service

In 2017, the effects of drought and climate change led California to suffer its most destructive wildfire season in history, which caused $10 billion in damage and left 44 dead, according to The New York Times.

As summer begins, 2018 isn't starting out any easier for the Golden State. On Monday, authorities ordered the evacuation of 2,500 residents of a rural community in Spring Valley, California, out of fear a raging fire would cut it off, Reuters reported.


Spring Valley, about 100 miles northwest of Sacramento, is in danger from the Pawnee Fire, which jumped the only road leading to the small community, Lake County Sheriff's Office Emergency Services Manager Dale Carnathan told Reuters.

The Pawnee fire started Saturday in Clearlake Oaks, California and has burned 12 buildings and put another 600 at risk, The Associated Press reported Monday. It has been fanned by strong winds and high temperatures, according to Reuters.

"What we're stressing is that people, when they get the evacuation order, they heed it immediately and get out and stay out until it is safe to return," the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox told The Associated Press. "This is one of four large fires burning in Northern California. It's a good reminder that fire season is upon us."

As of Sunday, the Pawnee fire had not been contained and covered 12 square miles.

Firefighters have made more progress on the other three fires burning in the region. The Stoll Fire in Tehama County destroyed "multiple residential and commercial buildings," Cal Fire told The Associated Press. But it only burned across three-quarters of a mile and was halfway contained as of reporting Monday.

The Lane Fire, also in Tehama County, covered 5.5 square miles but did not burn any buildings, though it threatened 200 and prompted some evacuations. It was 10 percent contained. Another fire in Shasta County, the Creek Fire, prompted evacuations but did not cause any property damage. It covered 1.6 square miles and was 20 percent contained.

The fires come as California braces for another devastating fire season. There are 129 million dead trees in the state due to drought and a bark-beetle infestation that could provide fuel for fires, in addition to dry brush and other potential fuels, CNBC reported Friday. Wildfires in Southern California already forced thousands to evacuate Laguna Beach and Alison Viejo earlier in June.

A month ago, Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean told The New York Times his department had already fought 1,200 fires that burned 8,000 acres, whereas by the same time in 2017, they had fought 1,049 fires that had burned 2,200 acres.

"The new normal is already here. We don't even use 'new' anymore," McLean told The New York Times. "It's the reality. The fire season is expanding. The weather has changed. We don't even consider it a fire season anymore. In Southern California especially, it's year-round."

Plastic bails, left, and aluminum bails, right, are photographed at the Green Waste material recovery facility on Thursday, March 28, 2019, in San Jose, California. Aric Crabb / Digital First Media / Bay Area News via Getty Images

By Courtney Lindwall

Coined in the 1970s, the classic Earth Day mantra "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" has encouraged consumers to take stock of the materials they buy, use, and often quickly pitch — all in the name of curbing pollution and saving the earth's resources. Most of us listened, or lord knows we tried. We've carried totes and refused straws and dutifully rinsed yogurt cartons before placing them in the appropriately marked bins. And yet, nearly half a century later, the United States still produces more than 35 million tons of plastic annually, and sends more and more of it into our oceans, lakes, soils, and bodies.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Rise and Resist activist group marched together to demand climate and racial justice. Steve Sanchez / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Alexandria Villaseñor

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.

Read More Show Less
Trending
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less
David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less