California wildfires burn a trail of fiery desolation



November 2018 Northern California Camp Fire Map of Affected Areas

Austin Liu, News Editor, Reporter

Over the past couple of weeks of its unfolding, the California wildfires of November are instigating a crisis situation for many families and greater communities across the California interior and coasts. Two large groups of fires are traveling throughout the state, one through the northern part of the state in the Central Valley and the other through the southern part of the state in the Transverse Ranges.

The fires in mountainous North Central California, which began raging on the morning of Nov. 8, are collectively known as the Camp Fire. The fire’s name is derived from the name of the road located near the origin of the fire which was directly affected by the initial spread of the fire, the Camp Creek Road in Butte County, California. In total, since this series of fires erupted until it was contained, 153,336 acres of land are burned, 85 lives are confirmed lost, the locations and conditions of 249 other civilians are still unknown, around 19,000 structures are destroyed ABC News said. Out of this number of destroyed structures, 13,972 were places of residence, 528 were commercial buildings, and over 4,000 were classified as buildings for other uses. According to CBS News, this fire is now named as the most destructive wildfire in California history as measured by lives lost. Released reports from ABC News describe much of the California town of Paradise, a town directly in the path of the fires, as absolutely destroyed. According to NBC News, many residents in the town and nearby escaped to the city of Chico in the county to take shelter and obtain other needs supplied through donations by the local people and outside places. Maps also display the evident effect of the fires on the air quality in the region as air quality decreased for the Sacramento and San Francisco areas and for the states of Oregon and Nevada from the spread of the smoke of the fires Business Insider said. According to

NBC News, the president visited areas affected by the fire Nov. 17 to share his comments about the damage of the fires and to support the efforts towards rescues and rebuilding communities after the disaster.  It is believed, but not confirmed that the two power failures of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company that happened around the time that the fires occurred may be the cause of the fires. Firefighters continued their efforts to stop the fire through Thanksgiving, and the fire was extinguished the morning of Nov. 25. Rescue teams are still on the sites that were impacted by the fire to search for people in the debris and devastation that the fire left. Rainfall during the week assisted firefighters in containing the fire. However, this rainfall is projected to be significant and may lead to floods and mudslides in the local area, which may slow the search for people who are missing from the fires according to CBS News.

The other fires devastating the Southern coast of California also began on Nov. 8 during the afternoon hours. These fires are together known as the Woolsey Fire, named after the Woolsey Canyon Road from which the approximate origin of the fire was originally traced in Ventura County, California. These fires, over the span of fewer than two weeks, expanded out of Ventura County to include Los Angeles County east of the county in its area of impact. Similarly, these fires left behind a path of devastation for communities in the Los Angeles metropolitan area in the past almost two weeks. In this region of the state since the fires, until it was contained, 96,949 acres of land are burned, 3 lives are confirmed lost, 1,643 structures are destroyed, and 364 are damaged in some characteristic. The fire was contained the evening of Nov. 21 according to CBS News. In addition, 3 firefighter injuries are reported from battling the fires by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Department. Many homes along the coast and a Hollywood film set were damaged or destroyed as the fire traveled ABC News said. Many pets are displaced by these fires as the Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control counted about 700 animals in its care, including 550 horses, nine cows, and at least one tortoise according to NBC News. The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but one possible conjecture is the connection of the fires to the outage of another electric company, Southern California Edison, which happened around the time the fire started. The president also visited the affected areas of this fire Nov. 17 to observe the damage the fires caused in local communities.

These communities affected by the fires can be helped during the winter season through donations to some of the following organizations.

  • California Fire Foundation: Through its SAVE program, the California Fire Foundation is distributing $250 cash gift cards for those who have lost their homes. “Anyone who has suffered a loss of more than 25 percent of their home can get a gift card for $250 per household,” says Carroll Willis, communications director at the California Fire Foundation and the California Professional Firefighters. Information about this program can be obtained at
  • United Way of Greater Los Angeles and United Way of Northern California: The Southern California Disaster Relief Fund will support our low-income neighbors whose lives and livelihoods are affected by the current wildfires in Southern California. Created by United Way of Greater Los Angeles, in partnership with United Way of Ventura County, the fund primarily provides longer-term support to help low-income individuals and families rebuild their lives…United Way of Greater Los Angeles, in partnership with United Way of Ventura County, has created the Southern California Disaster Relief Fund to help low- income individuals and families affected by the Hill and Woolsey Fires. Information about donating can be obtained at
  • California Community Foundation: The California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund supports intermediate and long-term recovery efforts for major California wildfires, as well as preparedness efforts…Grants from the Wildfire Relief Fund have supported those who were displaced or lost housing, belongings and/or employment, or suffered physical or mental health problems; helped to rebuild homes; provided case management services, basic needs assistance, mental health services and financial assistance; upgraded 2-1-1 phone and information system; assisted California wildfire victims with follow-up medical care and supplies; provided respiratory equipment and information to people with lung disease; educated homeowners about green rebuilding; and provided disaster preparedness information. Information about donating can be obtained at
  • North Valley Community Foundation: For short-term immediate financial needs, the North Valley Community Foundation has formed an internal committee of board members and service providers that consider requests and approve grants on a daily basis. However, our more important role will be to work with community leaders to determine needs and best uses of funds once the fire is out and attention turns to recovery efforts. That phase will be evolving over the next few months and will include collaboration with key funders, local and regional agencies, and direct service providers. Information about donating can be obtained at
  • Ventura County Community Foundation: Ventura County Community Foundation has set up the Hill Fire/Woolsey Fire Sudden and Urgent Needs Effort Fund as a vehicle to collect the generous donations from our community. Information about donating can be obtained at
  • AirBNB: One of the programs of this organization is an Open Homes program through which you can donate a temporary living space. This is a very practical way to help if you have a spare room nearby or other property near the impacted areas. Information about donating can be obtained at
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