By Mackenzie Pittman
On November 8, a California wildfire erupted, killing 23 people and destroying up to 7,000 structures. The third deadliest wildfire in the state’s history, named Camp Fire, was focused around the town of Paradise, but several other fires also broke out in southern California (Woolsey and Hill Fires). With wildfires in California becoming increasingly commonplace people are wondering what’s really causing fire to wreak havoc across the state. There are three major factors that have made the 2018 wildfire season in California one of the most brutal in history:
Every autumn, strong blasts known as the Santa Ana winds plague southern California. Dry air is carried from the Great Basin or western parts of Nevada and California. Along with dehydrating vegetation, the severe and arid winds cause fire to spread due to embers being shifted around. Additionally, if the rain season arrives late, the combination of a lack of humidity and the Santa Ana winds can be disastrous.
In addition to wind, temperature changes can have profound effect in areas like California. A change in climate has led to an increase in temperature of 2-3 degrees. The higher temperatures lead to drier, more flammable vegetation, escalating the possibility of large wildfires.
While some fires are started due to natural forces like lightning, many are caused by people. California is densely populated, so the risk of someone creating a possible spark at the wrong time is very high. Also, with an increase in the number of people moving and living near forests, the likelihood of humans triggering a fire rises.