Devastating wildfires are still raging in California. Authorities are still battling the aggressive Blue Cut Fire that threatens Southern California. The fire started on the 13th of August. By Thursday, it had managed to char more than 31.000 acres of land in the Cajon Pass, in San Bernadino County.
So far, over 80.000 people had to leave their homes.
The weather conditions in the area, and the layout of the region make this incident particularly dangerous. Cajon Pass acts as a funnel, pushing out wind at over 30 mph, spreading the fire further and further. Because this is the first fire of this magnitude in over a decade, the vegetation now consists mostly of dry brush, which fuels it even further. The extreme heat further increase the danger.
Over a thousand firefighters have been working around the clock to contain the fire, and have managed to stop about 68% of it. The mountainous terrain makes their work even more difficult, because it’s difficult to navigate even at the best of times. In some parts, residents were able to return home, though it’s doubtful how many of these homes still stand, after the devastating wildfires passed through.
Though have managed to contain the Blue Cut fire to some extent, Chimney Fire is still raging. It’s only 35% control, as of August 22. This fire might not have destroyed so many buildings yet. But it’s particularly dangerous, since it can potentially reach Hearst Castle, a historical and architectural monument in the vicinity of the area where the flames have spread.
One of the Most Devastating Wildfires Threatens Hearst Castle
The 165-room estate is filled with priceless artwork and other valuable items. As of Monday, though staff do have an evacuation plan, they have yet to start relocating the collection. Devastating wildfires such as this can completely ruin this irreplaceable collection.
Hearst Castle was built between 1919 and 1947 by media magnate William Randolph Hearst. It has over 127 acres of pools, terraces and gardens. Hearst Castle was the inspiration for Xanadu, the fictitious estate of Foster Kane, in Orson Well’s masterpiece Citizen Kane. Right now, the estate functions as a museum, but management closed it down when the fires started raging.
The Chimney fire is particularly difficult to handle because of the low-humidity of the area, and the gusts of wind which cause it to move in an unpredictable pattern. According to the Cal Fire website, the fire destroyed 52 structures, and threatens nearly 2 thousand more. It’s one of the most devastating wildfires to hit the region in the past 13 years.
Authorities are somewhat relieved the fires are not closing in on more densely populated areas. So far, the incidents have mostly affected rural areas, with large areas that have no structures.
Wildfires are a natural occurrence in the California region. Some are speculating that the severity of these incidents has increased due to climate change. However, the events of the past few years don’t seem to indicate that, even though the devastating wildfires have affected thousands of people and properties. While these incidents can be quite tragic, and can severely affect large regions, the wildfires of the past few years have been relatively normal, as far as scale goes.
Image Source: FEMA