A brutal series of events could not turn out any worse for the Golden State. A day after the contentious midterm elections, the Thousand Oaks shooting that took 12 innocent lives rocked the entire nation. But soon afterwards, the California wildfires rendered an even deadlier toll.
By themselves, such events are not uncommon. The Bear Republic is a vast area, but largely comprises of environments that are vulnerable to devastating fires. However, it’s the damage magnitude that has caught so many people off guard. Never in California’s history have so many lives been lost due to wildfires.
According to a recent CNN report, the current California wildfires have taken 74 lives. Experts believe that number will rise as firefighters and rescue workers assess the damage. A major challenge is finding the lost and reuniting them with their families. At time of writing, more than 1,000 people remain missing.
Even more horrific is the pain behind the statistics. Countless witnesses describe the California wildfires as a veritable warzone. Thousands are not only homeless but have lost virtually all their material possessions. Those who seek respite cannot do so as flashbacks of trapped individuals screaming for their lives remain etched in memory.
As we uncover the true depth of devastation, one burning question arises: why are California wildfires so deadly?
California Wildfires: Bad Management or Bad Luck?
Amid the chaos, President Trump made a trip to the Golden State to tour the devastation. During his meeting with outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, Trump pledged federal support.
The offer represented a slightly different tone from earlier this week when he blamed the destruction on poor forest management. In a tweet, Trump stated:
There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests.
But can we blame the California wildfires on executive incompetence? Perhaps, but the damage appears extraordinarily abnormal. For instance, prior to this recent tragedy, the worst California fire was in Griffith Park, taking 29 lives. This incident occurred in 1933.
Moreover, the present conflagration destroyed over 12,000 structures. The closest to that figure was Tubbs fire that occurred in October of last year, which destroyed 5,600 structures. Subsequently, that incident took 22 lives.
While it’s very possible that mismanagement played a role in the California wildfires, a more probable explanation is confluence; that is, several factors combined to spark this awful calamity.
Unusually hot weather, a historically-bad drought, and an abundance of dead trees provided fuel for the California wildfires. Add in the fact that so many people have moved into the Golden State’s vulnerable areas, and you have the recipe for a “perfect disaster.”
All fate needed was a match.