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California's deadliest wildfire finally contained

by Courtney Deeren - Copy Editor
Tue, Nov 27th 2018 10:00 pm
Sweeping blaze A historic fire made its way through 200,000 acres of land in the state of California. Starting on November 8, the fire was not contained until two weeks later on Sunday, Nov. 25. Dozens of people have lost their lives to the disaster and there are still people unaccounted for.  With the fire now contained, California is working to build and restore normalcy back into the state.
Sweeping blaze A historic fire made its way through 200,000 acres of land in the state of California. Starting on November 8, the fire was not contained until two weeks later on Sunday, Nov. 25. Dozens of people have lost their lives to the disaster and there are still people unaccounted for. With the fire now contained, California is working to build and restore normalcy back into the state.

Over the past two weeks California has been swamped by two major fires. The Woolsey fire and Camp fire have consumed a combined 250,285 acres.

Camp fire is California’s deadliest fire, with a death toll of 85, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The fire started in Butte County on November 8 and was deemed 95 percent contained as of November 23, according to BBC World News. Last week two rainstorms moved in to the area and helped lighten the firefighter’s load.

Spokeswoman for the Camp fire unified command unit, Brigitte Foster said, “As the days go on and the fields dry out a little more, the roads dry out a little more, we will be in there to try to button up that last 5 percent.” Foster also stated, “they’re going to be working on it for months. Within the perimeter, there are stumps and burning roots that are underground, and we still need to try to pull those up and remove the heat.”

Over 18,000 structures were destroyed in the blaze, 13,672 of which were single family homes. While the rain helped contain the flames, it also created a difficult terrain for firefighters to navigate. The rain soaked ground and became a hazard, making it harder and take longer for firefighters to be able to reach the final parts of the fire. The rain has also rose the threat of mudslides in the area, which means many bodies still uncovered may never be found. The cause of this fire is still under investigation.

The Woolsey fire, on the other hand, has been declared 100 percent contained. In the wake of this fire, a law firm is writing up a class action lawsuit against Southern California Edison, for allegedly causing the fire. Several homeowners in the area are already signing on, according to KTLA News.

Southern California Edison is a utility company. USA Today reports that Southern California Edison is to blame for the fire due to poorly maintained electrical equipment. Over 1,600 structures were destroyed in the fire before it was completely contained on Wednesday, Nov. 21. An Edison representative released a statement saying the company could not discuss the lawsuit, which started with Michael Henthorn, who lost a home, guest house, barn and animals on his 20 acre ranch in the fire.

Many celebrities also lost homes during the fire which made its way into the cities of Malibu and Paradise. Among those celebrities were Liam Hemsworth, Miley Cyrus, Neil Young and Gerard Butler, according to the New York Times.

These fires were a serious threat to not only the residents and homeowners in the area, but also the pets and wildlife affected by the fires. Videos can be found on almost every social media site showing bystanders stopping on the side of the road to save animals from the flames. Many first responders also saved pets that were left behind.

Similar videos documented what many experienced as they fled the inferno. A few belongings packed quickly into makeshift boxes and loaded into the car, people crying at the thought of leaving behind their homes, knowing they may never return. Many videos showed people driving on the highway with both sides engulfed in flames and ash falling from the sky.

While many of these residents have insurance to repair or rebuild their houses, it is still difficult to have to leave behind a whole life. People don’t have time to pack up most of their belongings and leave within moments of finding out about the fast moving flames.

Fortunately, the Red Cross has set up locations throughout California to provide food, shelter, clean water and comfort for many of those who were displaced. Community members have also shown support by bonding together to collect displaced animals and take them to shelters. The recovery is going to require a lot of work, but for now it has to be taken one step at a time.