More Fires

NASA image of the smoke from the fires in Southern California on Dec. 5, 2017. (Image: NASA twitter feed)

Ventura County is battling fast moving fires

by Brian Leubitz

While Sonoma and Napa Counties are just beginning to recover from the fires there, a new rash of powerful fires are burning in Southern California. Thousands have been forced to evacuate already, and strong winds are pushing the fires forward at up to 80 miles per hour.

As of earlier this afternoon, the Ventura County Thomas Fire has burned 50,000 acres, destroyed at least 150 structures and forced 27,000 people to evacuate,  click here for an LA Times list of the road closures and evacuation orders.

Meanwhile, a fire in Sylmar has burned over 10,000 acres. An evacuation order for the eastern part of the city is in place, but with the winds, all nearby residents should be ready to leave quickly.

This fire season has already been a hard one, with 43 dying in the North Bay fires. Yet there are some who still argue that climate change isn’t real. Yes, there are cyclical climate patterns, and the heavy rain last year added fuel to burn all across the state. And it is hard to point at any individual fire and say that this is the doing of climate change.

But in aggregate, the worsening of wildfires is due to climate change. A recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists points out some of these changes:

Wildfire seasons (seasons with higher wildfire potential) in the United States are projected to lengthen, with the southwest’s season of fire potential lengthening from seven months to all year long. Additionally, wildfires themselves are likely to be more severe.

Researchers and modelers project that moist, forested areas are the most likely to face greater threats from wildfires as conditions grow drier and hotter.

Surprisingly, some dry grassland areas may be less at risk, but not because they would be flourishing—the intense aridity is likely to prevent these grasses from growing at all, leaving these areas so barren that they are likely to lack even the fodder for wildfire.  

The governor has already declared a disaster in Ventura County. Be safe out there.