5 Things You Should Know about the California Wildfires

5 Things You Should Know about the California Wildfires

Last week several wildfires struck up across the state of California. For eleven days, three major fires have burned through hundreds of thousands of acres of land and displaced over 25,000 people. According to ABC News, the wildfires have left 82 dead and nearly 700 people missing.

The Camp Fire, one of the two major fires ripping through the coastal state, ignited near Butte County in the Plumas National Forest in Northern California.

The Woolsey Fire ignited on November 8, near Simi Valley and Los Angeles in Southern California. The fire is expected to possibly spread all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Weather reports are saying, however, that some much-welcomed rain is in the forecast for this week in California. The state is expected to get as much as 6 inches of rain.

Here are five things you should know about the California wildfires:

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  • 1. This is the deadliest fire in California history.


    The Camp Fire has been the deadliest fire in the state’s history killing 76 people.

    According to a Paradise town council member, the fire has leveled the small town of Paradise in Northern California, leaving dozens of people homeless.

    The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reports that the Camp Fire alone has destroyed around 152,000 acres of land as of Tuesday morning and has destroyed almost 13,000 structures. 

    The Woolsey Fire, though not quite as severe, has also caused significant damage across the state and taken the lives of several people. The fire, which is located near Los Angeles, has torched an estimated 96,949 acres, has destroyed almost 1,200 structures, and as of Monday, has damaged an additional 300. Three people have been killed in the Woolsey Fire. 

    Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan/Staff

  • 2. There is still a lot of fire left to fight


    The fires have been blazing for almost two weeks now and there is still a lot of fire left to contain. 

    According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Camp Fire is only 70 percent contained as of Tuesday, the Woolsey Fire is nearly completely contained with 96 percent of the fire neutralized, and several smaller fires across the state including the Sierra Fire and the Niles Fire are between 85 and 90 percent contained. 

     

    Collectively these fires, plus the Hill Fire which is now 100 percent contained, have affected around 253,020 acres of land across the state.

    Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan/Staff

  • 3. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced


    The fires have destroyed around 12,000 homes and have displaced around 157,000 people in California. In the Northern town of Paradise alone, 26,682 people are wondering if they will ever be able to go back home. FEMA shelters are open and working to take people in and help renters, many of whom did not have renter’s insurance, film claims which could help them start down the path of recovery. According to the FEMA Website, “state and federal agencies are strategically co-located and working around the clock to coordinate resources, provide assistance to survivors and help local communities begin the long road of recovery.”

    With the fires happening so close to the holidays, one town took it upon themselves to welcome displaced people and victims of the wildfires into their community for a Thanksgiving feast. According to NBC News, the residents of Lincoln, California, are planning to serve meals to those who have been displaced on Thanksgiving Day. The flier for the event reads, “Dear Camp Fire evacuees, our community is heartbroken by the recent events. While there is much we want [to] help with and pick up the pieces, we want to start by providing a Thanksgiving Dinner.” 

    Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Elijah Nouvelage/Stringer

  • 4. The fire has caused mass amounts of ash and smoke, diminishing good air quality.


    While the fire’s destruction and death toll are already a lot to be concerned about, this is not the only obstacle the people of California are facing. According to the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, a public health emergency has been declared in California.

    ABC News reports that the fires have already forced the evacuations of at least two hospitals and eight medical facilities. 

    In a statement on Wednesday Azar said, "We are working closely with state health authorities and monitoring the needs of healthcare facilities to provide whatever they may need to save lives and protect health.”

    He continued, "This declaration will help ensure that Americans who are threatened by these dangerous wildfires and who rely on Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program have continuous access to the care they need."

    According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, smoke advisories have been issued for regions affected by the fires, as smoke inhalation can cause a "significant health threat" especially for people with asthma or other lung conditions. ABC News reports that residents are being asked to stay inside. If residents need to go outside for whatever reason, however, they are being urged to wear properly fitting masks.

    Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan/Staff

  • 5. They are going to need help rebuilding.


    With damage so severe and damage that goes deeper than tangible destruction the survivors of the wildfires are going to need help monetarily, emotionally, and spiritually. 

    Many independent organizations have deployed teams to help victims rebuild, find temporary shelter, and to simply offer a shoulder of support. Faith-based organization Samaritan’s Purse is one organization that quickly gathered teams of people to deploy to the affected areas. 

    According to their website, “Samaritan’s Purse has staff on the ground, with one of our disaster relief units—a tractor trailer packed with tools and equipment—standing by, as firefighters continue to battle the deadly Camp Fire in Northern California’s Butte County.”

    It continues, “Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have also been deployed to the area and are already ministering to the displaced.”

    In an interview with CBN News, Will Graham said, “One of the greatest things you can do, and that's one thing I'm so excited about the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we send chaplains simply just to sit there and pray with people; cry with people; hold people."

    He continued, "People have lost everything – they're devastated, and they don't even know where the next step begins, and we just sit there, and we just start praying."

    If you would like to donate to the victims of the wildfires, click here.

    Photo courtesy: Getty Images/David McNew/Stringer