California goes up in flames

Beginning on Sunday, Oct. 8, more than a dozen fires burned in California that caused destruction in their wakes and could be thought of as one of the worst series of fires in California history.
These fires were located mainly in northern California’s wine country — Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Mendocino, Orange, Lake, Butte, Yuba, and Nevada Counties — and grew to encompass thousands of acres. While they were wildfires, their cause remains unclear and is still being investigated. What is clear is that these fires became so devastating through a combination of bad timing, strong winds, and a dry environment.
About 75,000 people were forced to evacuate; the death toll was at least 40 people, and thousands of homes were destroyed, along with the livelihoods of many. Suffice to say, the wine country will not be growing grapes for some time. Even more than the loss of income from grapes and wine, many people will also suffer from the loss of tourism that the region provided.
“People have built their lives around these wineries and ranches, and now they’re gone,” Alison de Grassi, spokeswoman for the Mendocino County Tourism Commission, told “The Mercury News.”
Even areas not close to the fires were affected. In west San Jose, smoke could be smelled and hung over the sky for multiple days, causing air pollution. With Spare the Air and smoke advisories being issued, various schools across the Bay Area cancelled the school day.
However, Leigh elected not to do this and simply cancelled all sports, including P.E.
On their choice to do this, Principal Kara Butler said, “While the air quality was concerning enough to cancel all practices and games, it was not to the level to close school. The air quality in the classrooms remained within normal levels and students were encouraged to stay indoors.”
Unrelated to the wine country fires, on Tuesday, Oct. 17, fires also began in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Rather than a wildfire, it is believed that it was the result of a housefire.
“[The fire] reinforced our gratitude for the people who risk their lives in order to save others, and our thankfulness towards the firefighters. It makes us reflect on how things can change in an instant, and see how prepared we are for a natural disaster and how prepared we are. I think I actually over reacted a bit now that I’m thinking about it, but it’s scary to know that there’s a fire four miles away from you. I’m just glad it’s over,” said Mona Wakita, sophomore, who lives near the fires.
Even so, through all of this devastation, communities have drawn together. In places both affected and unaffected, support has flooded in in order to help those who have lost their homes, jobs, and loved ones.