Written by Jon Mercer in Environment
Viewed by 63 readers since 11-18-2008
Wild fires destroyed over 1,000 homes in southern California, forcing over ten thousand people to be evacuated. In parts of Los Angeles and in Orange County, the towering plumes of smoke blocked out the sun and destroyed million dollar homes in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country. One resident described the area as “a war zone,” commenting on the burned out houses and burnt fields.
Officials estimate more than 20,000 acres have been scorched in the last four days. On Thursday, 210 homes were incinerated near Santa Barbara before firefighters could bring the blaze under control.
As yet the cause of the fires is unknown. On Sunday the firefighters got a break from the winds, allowing them to make use of aircraft with water dropping capabilities and to create fire breaks. Many of the 50,000 people who fled their homes were able to return after fire officials lifted the evacuation order, only to be threatened by new fires that had suddenly sprung up in some areas.
Southern California has had a very tough few days. High winds combined with high temperatures and a very dry climate has made a deadly combination, allowing the wild fires to burn almost undeterred by the efforts of firefighters.
Residents in Orange County said they were awoken at daybreak and given only five minutes to leave their homes. Although many were optimistic, some evacuated residents tearfully confronted the fact that they may not have homes to return to. Ash and acrid smoke filled the air as far as twenty-five miles away as the blazes roared out of control and people were urged to stay indoors to avoid breathing the ashy air near the affected areas.
Firefighters from as far away as Texas and Oregon volunteered to help extinguish the blazes. More firefighters are expected in the days to come if the blazes are not brought under control quickly.
California’s fire season, which usually runs from June to October, has been a year-round nuisance due to drought over the past three years. Last year thirty blazes raged across parts of Southern California, and forced the evacuation of more than 5000,000 people for two weeks and destroyed 2,000 homes.
The recent blazes near Los Angeles and in Orange County have taken their toll on the respective communities. In some areas where the fires came on suddenly and unexpectedly, police have begun to search for residents who may not have made it out of their homes in time.