By: Michael Malina
Widely regarded as one of the worst disastrous events in recent history, the 2018 California wildfires wreaked havoc on forests, residential areas, and even the air quality across much of California and even some of southern Oregon.
Every year, the Pacific Northwest goes through one of the worst phases of forestry epidemic. California, Oregon, and parts of Washington are hit with heat waves and very low humidity, which combined with small brush fires and recreational camping activities in parts of the states, is a recipe of disaster that all who live here know about. Last year was one of the worst fire seasons on record, for California in particular. Multiple news sources and Californian residents alike called it “The deadliest, most destructive wildfire season in the state.” Air quality across the Northwest and even as far north as Canada dropped significantly below healthy levels as smoke and small particulates and debris forced people inside well-ventilated buildings as news reporters warned that all outdoor activity be limited and accompanied with a respirator mask from the air pollutants.
But what made 2018 such a bad year for fires? Some say global warming exacerbated the already increasingly rough wildfire seasons in the last decade. Others put the blame on reckless recreational activities, such as lighting bonfires in the woods during summer camping or tossing a cigarette into the brush without properly extinguishing it. PG&E, one of the most prominent utility companies in the state of California, is at the center of many lawsuits and controversies for claims of faulty power delivery infrastructure being a huge factor in the sheer destructiveness of the recent wildfire season.
Although the wildfires have since been contained, some people have still not been able to recover. Massive evacuations of homes and even small towns may have saved people from the flames, but not their residences. Nearly two million acres of land were scorched in a blaze that took over 5,000 firefighters, state and volunteer, months to suppress fully. It cost the state over 1.7 billion dollars just in fire suppression costs, and another 1.7 billion estimated in structural and environmental damages.
No matter how you look at it, 2018 was a swing and a miss for the state of California. One could only hope that the summer of 2019 does not spell even more disaster for the Pacific Northwest and her beauty. For with every acre set ablaze, the wealth of green majesty, woodlands as crisp as a fall leaf, whittle down. The destructive power of a small fire gone awry, combined with ever-growing logging activity in the northwest, may spell disaster for our once boundless acres of forest, trees, and undisturbed natural ecosystems that reside in the heart of the northwest.