The day before the Camp Fire ignited near Chico, California, meteorologists were on edge. “I can’t recall seeing this much extreme on the Fire Danger Map,” tweeted Rob Elvington with KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding. After weeks of unprecedented dryness from heat, winds, low humidity, and lack of precipitation, it was clear California was a tinderbox.
Once the Camp Fire got going on Thursday (two utilities are now under investigation for their possible roles), it morphed into a monster fire in no time. It has since ripped through 113,000 acres and destroyed 6,400 residences, making it the most destructive wildfire California has ever seen. At least 29 people have died due to the flames, tying it with the 1933 blaze in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, the single deadliest wildfire in state history. (More than 200 are still missing.)
The dry, windy conditions throughout California mean Southern California is also at very extreme risk for fires. On Thursday, the Woolsey Fire sparked in Ventura County and has since swept into Los Angeles County, torching a total of 91,500 acres and killing at least two. And as of Monday, another wildfire, the Peak Fire, had broken out east of Simi Valley.
California Gov. Jerry Brown has requested a “major disaster declaration” from the White House to assist the emergency response to the wildfires, which Brown says were definitely made worse by climate change. President Trump meanwhile has blamed the fires on California’s “gross mismanagement of the forests,” a claim Brown’s office called “inane and ill-informed.”
“[Wildfires] will be part of our future … things like this, and worse,’’ Brown said at a Sunday press conference. “That’s why it’s so important to take steps to help communities, to do prevention and adaptation.”
Local news reporters, residents, photojournalists, and scientists have been sharing images from the ground on what was left in the fires’ wake. There will be a lot of damage assessment, healing, and rebuilding to do after these tragedies. Here’s what the situation looks like on the ground.
Was just sent this video from the Seminole Springs mobile home park in Malibu. Most got out with “just the shirt on their backs.” Now they’ve lost count after seeing more than 100 structures destroyed by the #WoolseyFire. : Eric Videgain pic.twitter.com/HH2lOefzkh
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) November 11, 2018