West Coast Wildfires Add to the 2020 Disaster Theme


Michael Anderson, Senior Staff Writer

 As if a national pandemic wasn’t enough, late this summer, a series of lightning strikes and a pyrotechnic device caused numerous record breaking wildfires that have devastated the west coast of the United States. Some have begun to wonder if it truly is the end of the world with one disaster quickly following on the heels of  another. 

 According to the CNN Article, West Coast fires: Hundreds of homes burned to ground, Oregon governor says, “The fire, sparked during a gender reveal party, was caused by a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” used at the party on Saturday morning in El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, about 70  miles east of Los Angeles, Cal Fire investigators determined.”  However, this was just one of the many fires that started along the west coast this year.  These fires seem to be initiated by a cosmic storm of events.  The hot and dry climate, the winds, the lightning strikes, and the careless mishaps by people have all contributed to the fires that have destroyed thousands of acres of forests, homes, and lives.  According to the New York Times article Record Wildfires on the West Coast Are Capping a Disastrous Decade, California, Washington, and Oregon are the three states that have been most affected by the fires this year.

These fires have left a ceiling of smoke that reached the Northeast.  If you happened to notice the red moon on the evening of September 15 as the Hubbard Cross Country team did, you may have noticed that it was red/orange due to the smoke, ash, and dust caused by the wildfires.  Hubbard Cross Country runner Austin Smith stated, “It was so orange, someone could mistake it for the sun.”  The red moon was most noticeable over Arizona and California, but affected even more northern areas, sources states. Think of the grey, hazy days that lingered over Hubbard, Ohio at that time. This hazy cast can also be attributed to the wildfires.

Although disasters like this are largely initiated by natural events, such as lighting strikes, there are things people can do to help prevent them, especially on the scale we are witnessing this fall.  According to an article by the United States Geological Survey, “there is general consensus that fire occurrence will increase with climate change.”  People in Hubbard may be able to help indirectly slow or prevent these wildfires from spreading by helping prevent greater climate change.  This can be achieved by avoiding the use of gas-powered machines whenever possible.  Wildfires may also be prevented by avoiding the use of things such as fireworks, matches, cigarettes, and the aforementioned pyrotechnic device.  Any uses of these things should be done so with caution, especially in the presence of brush or hot, dry weather.  It only takes a small spark to destroy many homes, nature, and lives.  As wisely noted by Mrs. Cheney, parent of Cross Country runner AJ Cheney, “As someone who grew up out west-it’s important to remember the words of Smokey The Bear:  We need to be more aware of our environment and more considerate of others, being very careful with campfires, cigarettes, etc.”