California is still on fire

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

Santa Ana winds continue as California is still suffering through fires.

By Sarah Best, Staff Writer

Smokey skies and roaring flames continue to plague Southern California while dangerous Santa Ana winds are causing the eruption of countless fires and thousands of acres have since been charred.

In the early hours of Oct. 28, large flames blanketed the hills near The Getty Center shortly after a tree branch fell and sparked nearby power lines. A dashcam video of someone driving by on the 405 freeway captured the exact moment in which the fire started. The fire was 79 percent contained as of Nov. 2, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. All evacuation orders have been lifted and all affected roads, like the 405 freeway, are now open. High winds and dry terrain are to blame for exacerbating and rapidly spreading the flames, forcing hundreds of evacuations and taking a toll on nearby schools like Mount Saint Mary’s and UCLA.

UCLA undergrad Carly Herkey said, “I was woken up by an alert and looked out my apartment window and saw the fire.”

Every year, the Santa Ana winds have their greatest impact on the Southern California region. According to AccuWeather, winds typically commence in September but can carry through June, reaching speeds of well over 70 miles per hour.

On Oct. 31, shortly after 6 p.m., the Santa Maria fire erupted in Ventura County. Though the cause has yet to be identified, high winds are again a suspect. As of Nov. 4, it has burned 10,000 acres, nearly 10,000 residents have been evacuated, and is currently 90 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The Hillside Fire in San Bernardino County that began on Oct. 31 has since burned 200 acres and is 95 percent contained as of Nov. 4. The Incident Information System reported that “six homes were damaged and 18 homes were destroyed.” San Bernardino resident Megan Gilman was in her home playing with her 2-year-old son Atlas when the fire made its presence known.

“I wasn’t even aware of the fire until the smell of smoke filled my entire house and large pieces of ash began raining in my yard. It completely covered my car and driveway,” Gilman commented. “I suffer from asthma too, so the terrible air quality was making it that much harder to breathe.”

Whereas most of these fires are not within proximity of each other, they are reaching all corners of Southern California, burning tens of thousands of acres, and troubling countless residents. The National Weather Service issued an Extreme Red Flag Warning last Tuesday that carried through Thursday, and Santa Ana winds are still the underlying suspect in the ongoing investigation of what exactly is causing so many roaring flames.

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