Above pictures burned native manzanita stems following wildfire
As I write this article, vast areas of California are engulfed in flames. Devastation from active California fires exceeds what can even reasonably be called tragedy. It is armageddon where the fires burn, as it was last year with fire elsewhere in California. Fire armageddon has become an annual and sometimes ongoing event in California as climate change, drought and low fuel moisture, rapidly accumulating fuels from invasive annual weeds and other exotic plants, loss of ecological resilience in wild areas, and other factors support ideal conditions for vast infernos.
The Camp Fire in Butte County has been confirmed as the most-destructive fire in modern California history, and also appears likely to be confirmed as by far the deadliest as measured in loss of human life. The second-most-destructive fire in modern California history was the 2017 Tubbs Fire in Napa and Sonoma Counties. As of today, 5 of the 10 most-destructive fires in California’s history as officially measured by CalFire occurred within the past 2 years.
The Woolsey Fire in Southern California was at 10% containment after a few days, burning actively in much of the territory between Los Angeles City and Ventura County, with at least 83,000 acres burned, over 200,000 people evacuated, hundreds of structures and homes destroyed, unknown loss of human life, vast loss of wildlife, massive plant/tree and ecological destruction, and with direct ongoing threat to both wild and populated areas.
Beyond the heartbreaking human stories and losses, the impact of these fires extends to the annihilation of animal and plant lives and populations. These fires are an environmental tragedy, part of the long process of catastrophe that accompanies widespread ecological destruction and planetwide climate change. The release of carbon and pollutants into the atmosphere from these fires supports the cycle of further catastrophes across the globe. When these fires are extinguished, the larger environmental conditions, cycles, and issues that caused them will remain, and are in need of attention and unified action if we are to prevent or even meaningfully reduce annual fire armageddon in California.
Our thoughts and hearts are with those whose lives and homes have been devastated. Many of us living in and near Los Angeles who aren’t directly threatened have friends, loved ones, colleagues, acquaintances, and neighbors who live in affected areas, have been evacuated, and may have lost homes.
Many opportunities are available for immediate support of disaster-relief efforts. I encourage all who read this to look at the reality of what is occurring, to recognize that this is happening to all of us and that over time such disasters may directly impact each of us in turn, and to help in whatever way you are able or as you are called.
This article will be discussed in the GardenZeus Southern California Facebook Group.