California Wildfires Tear through Paradise, Malibu

California wildfireEmma Dobbs, Staff Writer


On the morning of Nov. 8, California first responders received a report of fire in the Sierra Nevada mountains, 90 miles north of Sacramento, Calif. Just 15 minutes after it was reported, the fire had spread across ten acres of mountain slope, quickly turning into California’s deadliest wildfire, Camp Fire.

Driven by strong winds, Camp Fire destroyed homes and structures just an hour after being initially reported. While some members of the mountain community of Concow, Calif. escaped, a fallen tree blocked the main exit out of the town, leading to the deaths of at least eight people, and injuries to three others.

Camp Fire raged on, eventually threatening the town of Paradise, Calif. Evacuation orders given an hour after first reports of fire were only issued to a fourth of Paradise residents, with the intention of evacuating quadrants of the town separately. Evacuation orders for the entirety of the town were not issued until 2:30 p.m., seven hours after initial reports of fire. Paradise was lost. As first responders work to search through remains, they have reported that many died in car burnings in attempts to evacuate.

Camp Fire has burned more than 150,000 acres of land and more than 12,000 structures have been destroyed. As of Nov. 18, 77 fatalities had been reported as a result of wildfire, and 993 California residents were unaccounted for. First responders finally contained Camp Fire contained by Nov. 25.

50,000 California residents were displaced as a result of Camp Fire. Ten minutes from the town of Paradise, displaced residents have established a temporary tent city in the parking lot of a Walmart. Sleeping in cars and tents, many families have had nowhere else to go, and are unable to afford to stay in other housing. Community members have donated free food, clothing and supplies to survivors in need.

The Griffith Park fire of 1993 claimed the lives of 29 Los Angeles residents, previously making it the state’s deadliest wildfire. Camp Fire is now not only California’s deadliest wildfire, it is the most lethal fire in the United States in 100 years.

Camp Fire is currently under investigation. Investigators have determined that a malfunction of a high-voltage power line belonging to Pacific Gas and Electric. Co. ignited the initial brush fire. Pacific Gas and Electric Company is the largest utility provider of the State of California. PG&E’s stock has fallen dramatically as they face investigation into their role in the deadly Camp Fire. The corporation reported that not one, but two power lines failed the morning the wildfire began, and has faced scrutiny for this mistake. This would not be the first time the utility was found at fault for starting a wildfire. If found at fault, PG&E would be convicted twice in two years for unintentionally starting a wildfire.

While Camp Fire burned in Northern California, Southern California faced the Woolsey Fire. The fire, which started in the Santa Monica Mountains of Ventura County, eventually burned through Malibu. As of Nov. 18, the fire burned through 96,949 acres of land, and destroyed 1,452 structures. The number of structures burned rose to 1,500 the morning of Nov. 19, and was expected to grow as damage inventory was completed.

Of the homes lost, several belonged to celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Gerard Butler, and Neil Young. However, despite their expensive losses, Several celebrities have donated funds assisting with recovery for those affected by the fire.

As of Nov. 19, evacuation orders were lifted for Malibu residents. While some homes suffered only minor damage, many homes were completely destroyed. Besides destroying many homes, the Woolsey Fire destroyed a national park located in the county.


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