As fires still rage in California, the total “acres burned” count continues to rise to over 213,000. With the recent destruction caused by the Chimney, Blue, Cut, Rey and other fires, rural and urban areas have been desolated. One of the initial fires, the Soberanes fire, started scorching the state as early as July 22 according to California Department of Forest and Fire Protection.
Sophomore Meliny Pond, a student at Harding University and resident of Victorville, California, said it was hard to leave for school knowing the dangers of wildfires.
“My mom has asthma, so it was extremely hard to breathe for her, and we also had to help evacuate elderly people from church,” Pond said. “I was very worried because it got close to my uncle’s house and I was worried about leaving my mom and my grandpa behind.”
Air pollution is the trending topic of these wildfires and California natives know when not to be outside. The saturation of smoke can vary from town to town and each day there are new air quality reports.
Andrew Berberian, a former student who now lives in California, reflected on the screen of smoke that he experienced.
“The smoke was so thick, it was like looking through sepia sunglasses,” Berberian said. “Everything had [the look of] an Instagram filter.”
Wildfires are not a new experience for long-term residents of California. Over the past five years, the average number of acres burned is estimated at 110,000 per year,according to the California Department of Forest and Fire Protection.This leaves a great number of people shocked and homeless.According to sophomore Mariah McClellan, the local churches, such as High Desert Church, have provided shelter for those who had lost their homes and were without food. The church helped restore families by feeding them and allowing them to stay while they search for a new start.
For more information about how to assist fire victims, please visit http://www.cafirefoundation.org/