California Wildfire- What You Need to Know

December 2, 2018

Even if you do not watch the news, it is likely you have heard of the destructive Camp Fire that has swept throughout California, demolishing thousands of buildings in its wake. This fire is our nation’s deadliest fire in a century; over 18,000 buildings were destroyed, at least 85 people were killed, and 249 people are still missing. For other California residents, emergency shelters, hotels, and campsites have become their new homes, as they wait to see if they will even have a community to return to.

Every day, there seems to be more and more news on this fire. Yet for most of us, especially on the east coast, there is little knowledge about what exactly is occurring in California. So, here are all of your potential questions about the fire- answered.

  1. Why was it named “Camp Fire?”
    1. It is named after its place of origin, which was Camp Creek Origin in Butte County, California.
  2. When did the fire begin?
    1. The fire started on November 8th.
  3. Is Camp Fire the same as the Woolsey Fire?
    1. No, though some have used these terms interchangeably, they are different fires within California. The Woolsey Fire refers to the fire occurring in Southern California near Los Angeles. This fire was able to be contained earlier and was much less destructive than the Camp Fire.
  4. How did the fire begin?
    1. Deadly wildfires can begin with “something as simple as a power line, a flat tire, or a tossed cigarette butt” (USA Today). This, combined with strong winds and dry forests, is all it takes to ignite a wildfire. Though the exact cause of the California fires are unknown, there are several other factors that contributed to their intensities: the hot, dry weather the state has been experiencing, the lack of precipitation this fall, and the increased number of homes built on or near wildland vegetation.
  5. Why are people missing- what does this mean?
    1. Some people cannot be reached because of unreliable cell service. Additionally, some people have simply not reached out to their relatives and do not even know that people are looking for them. It has also been found that the list of missing people has had several cases of duplicate names, meaning that the amount of missing people is probably lower than what is currently estimated.
  6. Is the fire over now?
    1. On Sunday, November 25th, the state fire agency announced that The Camp Fire is 100% contained.
  7. Are residents completely safe now that the fire is contained?
    1. Though the rain over the past three days helped firefighters contain the fire, it can have a negative impact on the places that have been burned. Wildfires result in the removal of vegetation, which absorb water and prevent excess runoff. Thus, areas that experience significant rainfall after a wildfire are more susceptible to mudslides and flash flooding since they lack vegetation to catch the rain. Residents must remain cautious even though the fire itself has been contained.
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