The forest fire at the August Complex burns over 471,000 acres and is now the largest of all California forest fires of all time. The fire in the August complex, which is actually a combination of 37 smaller fires, is now burning in state in the Medocino Forest, which is north of Sacramento, NBC News reports.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the August Complex Forest Fire has spread to 471,185 acres, making it the largest California forest fire in modern history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The smoke from the combined fires, triggered by lightning strikes in mid-August, turned the sky over the Bay Area eerily orange this week.
However, this is just one of many major forest fires currently burning in California. In fact, six of the 20 largest forest fires in California took place this year, the department said on Twitter. And not just in Northern California: Large fires are burning on the west coast from Washington to Oregon to Southern California.
Forest fires and the poor air quality they cause can have many short- and long-term health consequences, SELF previously explained. Exposure to the smoke can cause breathing problems such as coughing, difficulty breathing and tightness in the chest, which can be particularly serious in patients with underlying lung conditions such as asthma. However, it can also affect the eyes and cause itching, pain, and tearing. When structures such as houses start to burn, the smoke produced can also contain carcinogens, which is particularly worrying for those who are constantly around the fire, including firefighters. Then, of course, there are the psychological problems associated with experiencing such a traumatic experience.
Typically, local residents who may be affected by smoke from forest fires advise staying indoors with the windows closed and possibly buying an N95 breathing mask. However, this is not exactly a “normal”
Why are there so many major forest fires this year? Government officials and experts say these combined disasters are part of a trend shaped by several factors, including climate change, which is increasing the average temperature of the earth’s surface. Associated with this rise in temperature are the perfect conditions for massive natural disasters such as large tropical storms, heat waves, droughts, and forest fires, depending on geographic location, explains the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Essentially, experts say that climate change will make disasters bigger and more frequent than in the past. When it comes to forest fires, research suggests that factors influenced by climate change, such as decreased snowpack and less frequent rainfall, are contributing to the recent increase in the frequency and magnitude of forest fires in California.
“CA has invested more in forest fire prevention than ever before in our history. We have adopted a bold climate policy. But that is not enough,” wrote California Governor Gavin Newsom on Twitter. “We need to do more. We need action at EVERY level. CA cannot do this on its own. Climate change is REAL.”
Unfortunately, disasters like this – and other health disasters – are likely to become even more common in the future as climate change continues. In this way, climate change is a global problem that affects everyone. And, as Newsom notes, we must act swiftly at all levels of government to combat climate change. Meanwhile, President Trump announced back in 2017 that he would withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, suggesting that securing the future of the planet is likely not his top priority.