By: Madi DeVries
Born and raised in Southern California, I am very used to natural disasters, like earthquakes, droughts, and fires. I live in Mission Viejo, which is located on the south side of Orange County, California. Mission Viejo has a population of about 96,000 people crammed into just over 17 square miles of land.
While earthquakes are the most common, fires have become an increasing menace to the Californian population as a whole, not even just on the southern end. At this moment, there are two fires raging strong in the state: the Kincade fire, which is scorching land in the northern California wine country, and the Getty fire, which is burning strong in west Los Angeles, about 60 miles from my house.
The number of fires in California has increased immensely over the last few years, more than tripling the 2016 numbers by 2018. According to the Insurance Information Institute, California is second in the nation number of wildfires every year at 8,054 in 2018, surpassed only by Texas, which had 10,541 the same year. However, California is ranked number one in number of acres burned, charring a whopping 1,823,153 acres in 2018.
These numbers should scare me, but sadly, I am rather used to it at this point in my life. My friends and I would have classes canceled in high school due to poor air quality, alongside excessive amounts of ash in the air, making it potentially deadly to be outside, especially the closer you are to the fire. Even now in college, my friends still suffer, sending me snapchats of the air with captions like “when school is canceled for the whole week, but you still can’t go outside.”
As if the weather isn’t awful during wildfires, there is also the pressing issue of what it does to the residents of the state. Californians pay ridiculous amounts of money for houses in gorgeous locations in a state that has a lot to offer, but most people that are looking to live there aren’t taking into account that their beautiful homes are at serious risk. I personally find it frustrating that we have so many fires that people aren’t even phased anymore. I didn’t even find out about the Getty fire that is 60 miles from my house until I had a meeting on campus. My family failed to mention it in any of the numerous calls we have throughout the week.
While all the fires raging on in California over the years can be frustrating, with the “really, another one?” attitude flowing around constantly, I still love my home state, and it will forever be one of my favorite places to be. My heart will always be in the Golden State, from the clear waters of San Diego, to the sandy dunes of Ocotillo Wells, all the way up to the tall reaching redwoods of Northern California, just as long as those aren’t torched too.