Wildfires Devastate California

Sirens blared through the California canyons north of Los Angeles and loudspeakers blasted orders for residents to evacuate. The Kincade Fire burned over 70,000 acres in Sonoma County from October 23 until it was fully contained on November 6. Concurrently, the Tick Fire burned 4,615 acres of Los Angeles County.
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Sonoma and Los Angeles counties on October 27. Officials did not want to risk the fire spreading overnight due to high winds, so the local government ordered a mandatory evacuation for nearly 90,000 people.
Subsequently, Pacific Gas and Electric shut off the power for nearly a million customers in the area. Makayla Oas ’21 said, “When I went home a few weeks ago, I expected to be welcomed by the palm trees and beaches I grew up loving. However, driving down the freeway and being in such close proximity to the wildfires, it make me so sad to see my home and childhood burning.”
Popular downtown boutiques and restaurants were deserted in Healdsburg by the following Saturday afternoon. In downtown Windsor, traffic ground to a halt, and lines for gas jammed roadways. The county fairgrounds in Santa Rosa turned into a disaster base camp for people and animals. An evacuation center in Sonoma County had to be cleared out.
The town of Geyserville and local vineyards were ordered to evacuate. However, some chose to stay, using generators for power. Officers reported 49 structures were destroyed, including 21 homes. Alexandre Akhavein ’20 said, “In Southern California, my cousins [were] scared every night because they [didn’t] know if the wind [would] bring the fire closer to their house, and [were] ready to be evacuated, just in case. All of their friends [had] already been evacuated from their own houses.”
Newsom announced that the state was granted $75 million by the federal government for aid to those in areas affected by power shut-offs. Half of this grant is allocated to local governments; the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and Oakland will receive $500,000 each. Newsom stated, “We are grateful for the swift approval of our request to ensure all resources are available to support the heroic work of our firefighters and first responders working to contain this fire and keep local communities safe.”
Firefighters were able to contain the fire within three weeks.