Panther Press

  • New Semester Begins 1/25

  • Finals on 1/22 and 1/23

A Look at the California Wildfires

Maria Andraos, '21, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Over the past couple of months, the people of California have been terrorized by the ongoing wildfires, which have already forced tens of thousands of people to leave their homes and belongings. Although firefighters are doing their best to maintain the blaze, these fires rage on and have burned through hundreds of thousands of acres. Buildings and homes have been consumed by the fires, and, unfortunately, there have been casualties. A death toll of 44 has been recently accounted, which includes a firefighter who was riding in to stop a blaze and was engulfed. The most recent fires have even hit celebrities, like Ellen Degeneres and Kylie Jenner. Jenner’s famous cosmetics brand was forced to shut down one of its facilities due to the raging wildfires. Ellen Degeneres tweeted that her house was threatened by the fire, and she was evacuated along with her pets. In addition to many of today’s celebrities fleeing their homes, the home of the late Charles Schulz, a renowned graphic novelist and creator of the Peanuts, was destroyed by the fire. On top of all of this tragedy, some California natives have used the fires as covers for their own personal schemes. Criminals have set off a few blazes near homes to force families into evacuating. As soon as homes were empty, these criminals would break in, steal anything of value, and make a clean getaway. But when a recent incident like this occured, the fire was put out, and the people behind it were detained. Besides the already present fires, the chances of more to emerge is decreasing. With this seasonal change into winter, cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels have helped in stopping new ones to form. However, the season isn’t the only thing that affects the ignition of these fires.


           California is the perfect spot for wildfires to grow and spread. It is unknown specifically what provoked these fires, though some say it was a powerline which malfunctioned and created a spark. Some believe it was from all of the campsites and campers. In general, four out of five are said to be caused by people. They would go out and light bonfires or campfires and forget to put them out. The tiny fires were able to expand due to the dry weather and droughts all throughout California, and as the fire spreads, it engulfs the heavy, dry brush. Winds, like the Santa Ana and Diablo winds, drive the fires around. Warm air blows in from the desert and creates a gusty day. These winds can blow down power lines, and the heat dries out the vegetation. As the winds transport the wildfires around, the dry vegetation is easily devoured. The winds were one of the biggest contributors in expanding the blazes, and that is the main cause for the Thomas Fire.


The Thomas Fire is the most prominent blaze in California. Beginning in Ventura County and spreading to Santa Barbara County, it has become the largest fire in the history of California. It is being fueled mainly by the Santa Ana winds. The Thomas Fire has destroyed an area greater than the size of New York City, Washington DC, and San Francisco combined, approximately 281,620 acres. Not only is this blaze consuming our land, it, among the other fires, has taken millions of dollars to put an end to. A reported 177 million dollars was spent on this blaze alone, and that amount will only increase until it is completely contained. Firefighters have been working nonstop since the moment it began on December 4 to extinguish it. There have been over 2,800 firefighters involved, and yet it has only been contained seventy percent. The California wildfire throughout all of 2017 have been horrible. In total, there have been an approximate 9,054 wildfires. These fires have destroyed about 1,381,405 acres of land and thousands of structures, and are estimated to have cost more than thirteen billion dollars. The fires have caused many deaths and injured over two hundred people, but the Californian firefighters will work hard into the New Year to extinguish these fires and put the civilian hearts and minds to rest.

The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
A Look at the California Wildfires