The West Coast Go Up in Flames

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In August 2020, the West Coast of the United States erupted into flames, sending distress signals all throughout the country. The New York Times reported that the fires were originally started by lightning strikes; the largest strike earned the name ‘August Complex’. As of Sept. 13, 2020, more than 30 people have been confirmed dead due to the wildfires, with thousands of people being forced to evacuate their homes. Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden warned on Saturday that “climate change poses an imminent, existential threat to our way of life” and accused President Donald Trump, a climate sceptic, of denying “that reality”.

According to The New York Times, “over five million acres have burned in California, Oregon and Washington so far.” Fires like these have become more and more common, resulting from rises in temperature, natural conditions such as lightning strikes, and man-made fires due to a lack of enforcement for forest safety protocol. 

Scientists and other experts believe that these fires will alter vegetation, make bushes and shrubbery have a higher propensity to catch fire, and leave residents and their homes at higher risks of burning. 

Another major issue is the rise in global temperatures that will engender a prolonged wildfire season, starting as early as spring rather than late summer. The most active wildfires are predicted to occur from September to late October, yet the rise of natural elements, such as high humidity, low rainfall, and strong wind gusts over the last decade, have catalyzed an early start to the fall season. 

Nevertheless, current data reveals that California remains most affected by these wildfires, as the current count is 22 wildfires. In Idaho, there are 14 fires. Twelve in Oregon, 8 in Washington. There have also been reports of wildfires spreading across Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. 

The heavy and dense ash-filled air surmounts the imminent global health crisis, causing a decadence in air quality in all three states, accentuating asthma episodes. According to Buzzfeed News, “Health experts warn that, in the short term, people exposed to these high concentrations of wildfire smoke will be more likely to die of heart attacks or be hospitalized because of asthma and other respiratory problems. The longer-term effects are less clear, but early research suggests that severe exposure to wildfire smoke can cause measurable reductions in lung function that last for at least a couple of years.”

It is estimated that the West Coast Wildfires will be entirely contained within the month of October. Until then, firefighters from multiple states are working endlessly to prevent more fires from inciting. As of right now, numerous nonprofit organizations like the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the Direct Relief, have pledged support by sending aid packages of all varieties, ranging from food and medical supplies, to financial and emotional support. 

Here are a list of websites where you can donate whatever you can afford:

  1. The American Red Cross
  2. The California Fire Foundation
  3. The Salvation Army
  4. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation
  5. The Direct Relief

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