Update on California Fires


Clare McNamara, Contributor

After the devastating fires in California burned down vineyards and homes across northern California killing up to 42 people, destroying 213,000 acres of land with $3 billion of destruction, they are now thinking about the clean up. Officials in burned areas are preparing for the next step of clean up, considering the multiple problems that are at hand. Issues range from cost to time to health issues. 

Clean up for the fires pose many health issues for Californians. Thick layers of ash, clouds of smoke, and piles of rubble cover the northern state of California. Although the process has not started, there are concerns that rainfall will wash the ashes into water facilities, wind could blow the ashes to unaffected areas, and concerns of chemical emissions. The concerns of cost, time, legal responsibilities, have been increased by the widespread areas of destruction and lingering fires.

There is also a concern for those who lost their homes in the fires. Homelessness was an issue in California long before the fires and is increasing with the progression of fires and loss of homes. Over 5,000 buildings were burned as a result of the fires, many of them businesses and homes. With the lost housing, homeless shelters are filled with the additional hundreds of people who are in need of shelter.

Along with the burned homes comes health issues. The New York Times interviewed Dr. Karen Relucio who said, “Just think of all the hazardous materials in your house. Your chemicals, your pesticides, propane, gasoline, plastic and paint — it all burns down into the ash. It concentrates in the ash, and it’s toxic.” Relucio is an expert in Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine, and was assigned to the position Napa County’s chief public health officer in 2015. Officials are extremely worried about the hazardous effects of the chemicals that burned in these fires and caution all citizens to cover up exposed areas by wearing long pants, long sleeves and covering the mouth and nose. 

After the devastation of these fires, which still continues in northern California, many foundations have raised money and offered donations to the victims of the wildfires. If you would like to donate to the victims of California, please consider American Red Cross, Napa Valley Community Foundation, Salvation Army or food pantries like Food pantries of Napa County or  Food pantries of Sonoma County.


Image Courtesy of New York Times