As of September 22nd, 30+ major fires and one extended attack wildfire (a fire that has spread and requires additional resources) continue to burn in California, Oregon, and Washington More than 18,000 firefighters are battling the flames in California alone, but in many cases the fires have only been partially contained. Wildfires have scorched more than 5 million acres of West Coast land since the beginning of the year, and have taken at least 35 lives since August 15th.
Ongoing West Coast Wildfires
Here is an overview of some of the wildfires that are still burning in the West Coast:
The largest wildfire that California has ever seen, the August Complex Fire consists of the Elkhorn, Hopkins, Willow, Vinegar, and Doe fires. The blaze started as separate fires that were caused by lightning strikes in mid-August.
The air in Mendocino and Humboldt counties has become toxic due to smoke; national forests and parks have closed; and over 845,000 acres have been burned to this point. Firefighters have contained about 43% of the fire.
The El Dorado Fire was caused by a combination of high temperatures, dry conditions, and human error. On September 5th, a pyrotechnics accident at a gender reveal party gave rise to a wildfire that is still raging more than two weeks later.
Though it’s now at a relatively high 60% containment, the El Dorado Fire has already burned more than 22,500 acres of land.
Just a day after the El Dorado Fire started, the Bobcat Fire followed. Due to factors such as temperature, humidity, and elevation, the blaze is expected to continue spreading. There is no known cause as of now.
Ranking as one of the largest wildfires in the history of Los Angeles county, the Bobcat Fire has taken out more than 100,000 acres of land since September 6th. What’s worse is that it’s still only 17% contained.
Long-Term Impact of West Coast Wildfires
In the midst of a record-breaking wildfire season, California, Oregon and Washington have lost millions of acres. Massive fires across the state have led to dozens of fatalities and many injuries. As firefighters work to contain the fires, what can we expect moving forward?
- Continued fires: Wildfire season isn’t over yet, and high temperatures and heavy winds are ideal conditions for spreading flames.
- Property damage: These fires aren’t easily contained, and they’ve been spreading for weeks. Homes, buildings, and entire communities have been damaged, and more destruction will follow until the fires are fully controlled.
- Poor air quality: We know that smoke inhalation is bad, but what are the long-term effects of wildfire smoke exposure? This is a unique type of smoke inhalation that hasn’t been studied at great length, but it could be responsible for “aggravating chronic lung and heart conditions, triggering asthma attacks, strokes and heart attacks,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
- Immune system health: One study suggests that exposure to wildfire smoke can impact immune system health in children.
- Preterm birth: Women who are exposed to wildfire smoke during pregnancy may experience a higher risk of preterm birth, according to another study.
Between wildfires, earthquakes, and the coronavirus pandemic, Californians, Oregonians and Washingtonians could use a break. If you or a loved one has been injured or experienced property damage due to the wildfires, you may be owed compensation. Contact us to learn about your legal options.