By Jose Flores-Jimenez
Kincade, Getty, Ranch and Maria were the names of the out of control wildfires in California that have led to the evacuation of over 200,000 people in a state of emergency. In light of PG&E’s (Pacific Gas and Electric Company) poor infrastructure, residents of California suspect that the 198,815 acres burned by the fires were an accident waiting to happen.
The Getty and Kincade fires were among the largest in the scene, together having burned a total of 78,503 acres of land in Los Angeles and Sonoma County respectively. Both lasted for weeks and were fueled by the powerful winds that hit California at the end of October.
Meanwhile in Ventura County, 9,999 acres were burned in a wildfire incident that was quickly brought under control by firefighters. Tehama County saw a loss of 2,534 acres in the span of 11 days with the Ranch Fire incident.
The cause of these fires have led back to a single cause—electricity.
The three biggest electric corporations in California are PG&E, SDG&E (San Diego Gas and Electric Co.) and Southern California Edison. It has been a long known fact that the power lines of companies such as these can lead to fires when strong winds cause trees to fall into them.
For all three companies, including PG&E in the Bay Area, this has meant a precautionary cut of power in order to prevent more wildfires.
According to PG&E, power cuts were expected in 29 counties in California. About 940,000 homes and businesses had their power shut off across Northern California, equating to about 2.5 million people.
However, this doesn’t change the fact the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) gave PG&E an infrastructure score of D+. Therefore, California depends on electricity that fails to meet the standards of environmental precaution, and is at strong risk of failure, according to the ASCE.
In spite of all of this destruction, the biggest blow comes in the fact that this has been California’s more improved years in terms of Wildfire Destruction.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 2018 saw a loss of 8.8 million acres to California Wildfires, while 2017 saw a loss of 10 million acres.
Wildfires are becoming a part of California’s regular environmental hazards, and while residents and power companies alike are getting closer to finding precautionary solutions, there is no way to entirely stop them.
For people living in or near the areas of these fires, evacuation has been the best move.
“No one should be dying if we can help it,” said English teacher Rosemary Kuhn, who housed some of her own family who have had to flee from the raging wildfires.