By Dylan Botelho, Staff Writer
Wildfires have ravaged the state of California this month of October. The fires spreading across the entire West Coast state has thus far taken the lives of at least 42 people, led to over 300 missing persons, and displaced thousands from their homes. While the recent catastrophic hurricanes that brought destruction by wind and water, the ongoing wildfires have burnt down entire counties.
Wildfires aren’t something new to Californians, especially in the month of October. The fires move fast, almost too fast to be stopped. In California, October is the most dangerous month for California wildfires due to dry vegetation and seasonal winds that help fuel and push the flames across the state. Most of the state’s deadly reoccurring wildfires have happened during the month of October.
In 1991 an Oakland hills fire left 3,500 homes destroyed and killed 25 people. Thanks to California’s long standing drought that they have suffered now for six years, much of the crops are left susceptible to the effects of wildfires like these, making for an even more destructive force than before.
These are the deadliest group of sporadic wildfires in California’s history and they aren’t slowing down. Pictures and videos of smog filled towns that look like a scene out of The Hills Have Eyes have made for chilling realizations of the damage fires can cause first-hand.
Fire-fighters and other officials have apparently found appalling discoveries including bodies of victims that are “burnt past recognition” and just “ashes and bones” in the black soot that was once a family home or local business.
According to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the wildfires have burned over 330 square miles, which is roughly the size of San Francisco, Sacramento, and Fresno all combined.
To put it into context of other major cities, it’s much larger than the city of Chicago, which is only 234 square miles and is slightly larger than five of New York City’s biggest boroughs, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. While most of the initial fires have been contained, new ones have begun to occur in Northern California that are larger than its predecessors.
Aside from the loss of life and displacement of homes, the wildfires are also making a huge dent in California’s economy. According to analysis from CoreLogic, a property analytics firm, the wildfires could cause $65 billion dollars of property damage across Northern California.
California’s major wine market has also been ravished by the fires in Napa. Napa’s grape will usually sell for $7,000 a ton but many of its vineyards have met their demise in the wildfires. Many of the wineries still even remain inaccessible in Napa to even evaluate the damage down by fires.
Luckily, most big wineries in the area, like Signorello Estate, stores completed wine offsite, so sales won’t be on the decline until after the rebuilding process has begun.
Along with wine vineyards, marijuana farms have also been burned up. It’s so far been estimated by the California Cannabis Industry Association that 10,000 to 15,000 marijuana farms have been burned down.
Medical and recreational marijuana is a huge market in California and unlike the wineries that hold product off-site, all plants are grown and stored in their allocated facilities.
The retail market for recreational marijuana is set to open in 2018, in which revenue is predicted to be boosted by $6.5 billion dollars a year from an already high $2.8 billion last year in medical marijuana alone.
Los Angeles Rams Quarterback and California-native, Jared Goff has launched a GoFundMe page to help provide relief for his Bay-Area hometown of Novato, California. The GoFundMe raised over $30,000 in its first day active and continues to rise.
Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth donated $10,000 to the cause and a second anonymous donor also pledged the same amount. If you, too, would like to donate to Goff’s cause, you can find the GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/dnvy2-northern-california-fire-relief.
Wildfire experts predicted a ravishing season for wildfires this year and future years in Time Magazine. Wildfires that have taken place in early October though, may be its apex.
Their effect has only seemed to heighten every year, so all we can do is hope for the best when it comes around again.
Hopefully a cool winter will continue to dampen California, as it did last season, and will rejuvenate new life into crops and halt the force of wildfires next year.