Apocalyptic scenes in California as "fire thunderstorms" drown out the sun

Apocalyptic scenes in California as ‘fire thunderstorms’ drown out the sun

Apocalyptic scenes in California as "fire thunderstorms" drown out the sun

Screenshot / Twitter

San Francisco residents have woken up to a blood-orange sky as “fire thunderstorms” rain ash over the nation’s most populous state. Scientists warn of the “cascade effect,” whereby one disaster triggers another in an apocalyptic tumbleweed.

Climate change is no longer knocking at the door. It is destroying the West Coast.

Wildfires are raging across Oregon.

Screenshot / Youtube

California, Oregon, and Ohio face the deadliest fires in living memory. A dystopian haze covers the Bay Area of San Francisco as the sun struggles to shine through the snowing ash. At least 15 are dead, and firefighters fear they will discover more bodies.

The West Coast is on fire. Millions of residents abandon their homes as fires race through communities. This is not the script of a blockbuster sci-fi movie. This is the United States of America in 2020.

How did this happen?

thermometer on a red backgroung

Pixabay

One of the hottest summers on records left the land bone dry and dangerously arid. California has recorded 6 of its 20 most significant fires in history this year alone. Insurers may abandon California leaving residents vulnerable and homes unprotected.

Oregon declares a state of emergency with a 10% evacuation

Oregon State Capitol building

Wikimedia

Over half a million residents in Oregon have deserted their homes as they flee the deadly fires. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced a state of emergency on Thursday night.

The flames have ripped through the state blackening around 900,000 acres. The environmental devastation is unprecedented. Portland Governor Katie Brown blamed three factors: unusually strong winds, mismanaged forest practices, and an abnormally warm climate.

Fires are still not under control

Wildfire California

Forest Service USDA / Peter Buschmann

California firefighters are struggling to contain the wildfires. The North Complex fire, Creek Fire, and the El Dorado Fire are now semi-contained. The August Complex fire continues to ravage Northern California and is the biggest yet.

Lighting sparked the blaze last month, and it has since devastated over 471,000 acres.

Horror stories continue to emerge

Jeremy Remington and his family were camping when they became trapped by surrounding flames. They were eventually rescued.

Screenshot / Youtube

As the flames blaze across the West Coast, horror stories and tragedy are emerging from the embers. In Washington State, Jake and Jamie Hyland were found severely burnt on the Columbia River banks. The rescue team was too late to save their 1-year old son Uriel who died in the fire.

In Oregon, a 12-year-old boy and his grandmother were both killed in the blaze. More harrowing stories are expected as search and rescue teams make their way through the smouldering remains of towns and communities along the West Coast.

Noah Diffenbaugh is a climate scientist from Stanford University. He told the Associated Press:

The frequency of extreme wildfire weather has doubled in California over the past four decades, with the main driver being the effect of rising temperature on dry fuels, meaning that the fuel loads are now frequently at record or near-record levels when ignition occurs and when strong winds blow.

Lungs of the nation – ravaged by COVID-19 then by wildfires

A photograph of trees burning in a wildfire

Pixabay

As though the COVID-19 pandemic was not enough, Californians now have to race to buy air purifiers and emergency supplies. At 11 a.m. people were turning on the lights as a surreal dark orange sky blocked out the sun.

Many face statewide blackouts.

Multiple locations on the West Coast experienced record highs last week, and many more broke records for their hottest ever days in September. There were areas that never got below 100ยฐF โ€” even overnight.

The Bear Fire is coming

Close up photo of fire

Unsplash / Maxim Tajer

Warnings that the “Bear Fire” was coming referred to California’s 10th worst fire. The Bear Fire ripped through 230 thousand acres in just 24 hours.

The Bear Fire, later known as the North Complex Fire, was described by the Cal Fire spokesman Rick Carhart as a “massive wall of fire.” Carin Dorghalli is a local reporter stated,

The town is leveled. A firefighter said they rescued a hundred people from the Bear Fire, including burn victims.

The effects are long-lasting

'We must protect the hands that feed us': Wildfires continue to exacerbate unbearable working conditions for farm workers in California

NeedPix

Hospitals across California will begin to see a rise in acute respiratory problems, heart attacks, and deadly strokes. No, this is not COVID-19 this time but the aftereffects of the smoke and ash which can travel hundreds of miles. Those who work outside, like migrant farmworkers, are hit especially hard.

Patients already suffering from, or at high risk from the coronavirus will be most vulnerable to the wildfire smoke.

The charred skeletons of homes destroyed by the fires add another level of danger: contaminated water. Plastics within the water infrastructure can leak chemicals into the water supply when damaged by heat.

Water is classified as hazardous when it contains over 500 parts of benzene per billion. After the wildfires in Sonoma county, some samples of water had 40,000 amounts of benzene per billion.

Climate change is real, look at California

Climate protest

Flickr / Takver

Scientists, climate change activists, and environmental agencies have been warning governments worldwide for years โ€” climate change is real. Anyone who is still in denial only needs to look at California, where the fires are blackening out, even the sun.

We echo the warning of former President Barack Obama, who tweeted: “Vote like your life depends on it. Because it does.”

Be ready to vote for the future in November, we can’t afford any more climate science deniers.

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