The August Complex Fire burns near Lake Pillsbury in the Mendocino National Forest, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

California Wildfires Continue to Dominate West Coast

By Luke Dammann

            SACRAMENTO, Calif. ( — Wildfires continue to rampage through large parts of California and other western states leaving at least 24 dead.

Last week saw an explosion of fires break out in California’s scenic Sierra National Forest, displacing many and even forcing some Labor Day campers to be rescued by helicopter.

            The cause of the fires is believed to be linked to a haphazard gender reveal party, along with dry weather and rising temperatures.

            Seasonal wildfires are not new to California or the western coast but the rate at which these fires are spreading is unprecedented, with each day shattering what the phrase, “once-in-a-lifetime” means. 

            “We have seen multiple fires expand by tens of thousands of acres in a matter of hours, and 30 years or more ago that just wasn’t fire behavior that we saw,” says Jacob Bendix, a geography and environment professor at Syracuse University. 

            Neon-red skies, thick smoky air and a sense of hopelessness permeate through iconic west-coast scenery as citizens try to escape and stay safe.

            Like many, Jim and Tina Weber attempted to evacuate their home in Oregon’s Blue River area but were met with, “fire crossing the road on both sides, and trees falling down,” said the couple.

            This event in particular has brought the discussion of climate change and environmental health to a new forefront.

            “By some measure, it’s clear that ‘dangerous climate change’ has already arrived. It’s a matter of how bad we’re willing to let it get.” Says Michael Mann, the director of Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center. 

            Scientists fear this is only the beginning of disastrous effects climate change could have on the country and world at large.  

About Luke Dammann

Luke Dammann is a senior at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is majoring in communications, with a minor in criminal justice.

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