For nearly a week, Southern California’s half-dozen uncontained fires, fueled by the Santa Ana winds, have continued to burn while officials say there’s no clear end in sight. On Saturday, authorities also confirmed the first death (of a woman attempting to escape the massive Thomas fire) related to these blazes, and Governor Jerry Brown had no good news to offer his residents while surveying damage in his state this weekend.
Speaking to residents in Ventura County, which has been particularly hard hit by the Thomas fire, Brown predicted that a “firefighting Christmas” was in the cards for this year. Indeed, at least 5,700 firefighters, some from other states, are already battling around the clock, and Brown warns that unless new vegetation strategies are undertaken in response to uncontrollable winds and climate change, this new trend is here to stay for the foreseeable future:
“We’re facing a new reality in this state, where fires threaten people’s lives, their properties, their neighborhoods, and of course billions and billions of dollars … this is kind of the new normal. With climate change, some scientists are saying southern California is literally burning up … This could be something that happens every year or every few years.”
CNN reports the latest grim statistics from the ongoing disaster. At least 4,000 firefighters have worked against the Thomas Fire, which reached the Pacific Ocean and has now burned an area the size of Chicago. Meanwhile, the Skirball fire continues to threaten some Los Angeles landmarks while the Lilac fire’s disastrous effects are ongoing near San Diego. Altogether, the infernos have swallowed 180,000 acres and nearly 800 structures. And sadly, those numbers will likely continue to rise for weeks to come.