The western US state California, has a history of the most destructive wildfires. The dry, windy and often hot weather conditions that start from spring and continues till late autumn in the state is often one of the reasons responsible for wide California wildfires.
The climate change plays a significant role in growing California wildfires that are often fanned or made worse by strong, dry winds, known as Diablo winds and Santa Ana winds, which occur in the northern and southern part.
Since 1932, innumerable fires categorized as the largest, deadliest and most destructive have occurred in the US state, burning down various lives and polluting the air with emissions harmful to human health.
More than 350,000 people in California live in towns completely within life-endangering zones, while more than 2.7 million people live in “very high fire hazard severity zones”.
The current-running California wildfires have scorched thousands of acres, spreading from the south of Santa Paula to Sonoma County and Tehama County, prompting mass evacuations across the state. Though the authorities say that the wildfires are largely under control as of now, the experts believe that the hot and dry conditions in the State might elevate the risk of unstoppable fire in the days ahead.
Amid the fire investigations, the public safety power shutoff (PSPS) events have been in controversies. The PG&E and other power utilities have preemptively shut off power to over one million residents due to perceived risk of wildfires, starting in high winds because of high-voltage power lines.
The PG&E, which is the state’s biggest utility, is debt-ridden, mismanaged omnishambles currently being chewed over by a bankruptcy court. Covering its enormous maintenance and fire-prevention backlog is going to cause rates to rise even as power becomes less reliable.
With no power, the authorities have even failed to provide updates and critical life support equipment to the victims of fire, whose lives remain critical.
The Santa Ana winds gave rise to the Maria fire in Santa Paula, which has up till now burned some 15 square miles and prompted evacuation orders for nearly 11,000 people. Though the cause of the fire is under investigation, yet there is a troubling possibility that an electrical line might have been involved.
On Friday, Southern California Edison said that it re-energized a 16,000-volt power line 13 minutes before the fire erupted in the same area.
Meanwhile, the crews continued to work on containment lines over the weekend and paid close attention to the county’s avocado and citrus orchards that were threatened by the flames. Following the California wildfires all the mandatory evacuation orders were lifted Saturday.
The Kincade fire in Sonoma County’s wine country, scorched nearly 78,000 acres and destroyed at least 370 structures since it began more than a week ago. It was noted that most orders have been lifted as crews put out spot fires and continued with mop up operations.
The Ranch fire, which started near the edge of Mendocino National Forest, about 30 miles southwest of Red Bluff grew to nearly 500 acres. Some voluntary evacuation warnings were issued. Various other blazes threatened hundreds of homes at their peak including the Easy fire in Ventura County and the Getty fire in Los Angeles.
Moreover, the dry weather is keeping the risk of California wildfires high. The result of decades of fire mismanagement has left California’s forests tightly packed with dry dead trees that have only promoted fire.
The authorities have to confront its latest electricity crisis, including hardening the grid and improving the fire safety of grid infrastructure; changing housing and land-use policies that encourage people to move outward into fire-prone areas; reforming a dysfunctional and bankrupt PG&E; and making the electricity system more localized through solar panels, batteries, microgrids, and other forms of distributed energy.