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Thinking on the Impact of the California Wildfires

It’s taken me a few days back home to really get back into the blogging groove. I was fortunate enough to have my mother’s house to evacuate to, but living in a house with 11 other people is not exactly what I would call restful. Add in a rather large number of dogs, and things were pretty crazy over there.

ashes came in under the door

But things are calmer now in my area. My home did not burn. My sister’s home did not burn, although the fire came very, very close. My in-laws home did not burn. My mother’s home didn’t even get an advisory evacuation because it was so far from the flames, thank goodness. We were all extremely fortunate.

But of course the air has been simply terrible, so bad the kids aren’t supposed to play outside. And I now know a lot about where my house leaks – that’s where the ash came in. The front door leak was no surprise, and seeing which windows leaked more or less was educational.

But of course the environmental impact is there. The ashes contain whatever chemicals were in the homes that burned. You know how bad that can be. And if this post on Green Options has it right, this could be something of a cycle building, due to global warming.

I know a lot of people have trouble associating global warming with increased risk of fires. It’s not that things get warmer that causes the fires, folks. It’s that the cycles of drought and rain become more extreme. More brush grows when it’s wet, and it gets drier and drier, easier to burn as droughts extend. Hence, more large fires when fires happen.

We’ve been in quite a drought of late. They were already talking about conserving water supplies and how we’ve been tapping into reserves before this; I fully expect this talk to get very serious now, especially if we have yet another dry winter. That will probably be another impact of the fires. I’ve been wondering how much of our water supply was used up fighting it.

One of my hopes is that more homeowners will think about what they plant after this. In a place like this, drought resistant plants are a must. If it’s not too easily burned, so much the better. There are plenty of plants that do grow pretty well out here without constant watering. Some are quite pretty.

Now I’m just sitting indoors at home, hoping that the spot showers that have happened elsewhere will happen in more places (especially anyplace still burning) and help to clean the air a little. I really do look forward to being able to let my kids play outside freely again. You know how crazy kids get when they’ve been mostly cooped up.

Technorati Tags: california fires, environment, global warming, california wildfires, fires

2 Responses to Thinking on the Impact of the California Wildfires

  1. I am glad to hear you are back home – safe and sound and that your family is also safe. It does seem as if there are more and more wildfires every year. I grew up in Kansas and never remember hearing about fires, anywhere – maybe I just didn’t pay much attention. Now that I live in Colorado I see the effect of it. It has been very hazy here for the past few days from the fires in California. What was interesting was that we could not smell the haze – maybe because California is too far away. When Utah had a lot of fire we could smell the smoke.

  2. The smell of smoke took a long time to clear around here. I think they finally decided today that the air was safe enough for the kids to play outside for recess at school.

    It’s been interesting seeing the damage from both wind and fire. I took my son to his speech therapy today and drove through some of the burn areas. But other places were damaged by the winds, which had gusts up to hurricane strength. The playground near our house had a swing set crushed by a eucalyptus tree that fell due to wind, not fire.