A Californian’s guide to forest fires

Bridgette Boone, Contributor

The first thing I am always asked when mainstream media blasts news on raging fires in California is, “Is your family okay?” As a Los Angeles native, forest fires have always been a part of my life. Driving down the 5 (freeway) and seeing the mountains become slowly engulfed by the flames is nothing new to people living in California. I recently found out that a “fire backpack” — something I grew up with — is not so common in Minnesota. Fires are terrible, and they cause destruction not only for people but for wildlife in California.

A common question I am asked is usually related to celebrities. The last thing anyone in the state of California is worried about (except maybe the celebrities themselves) are celebrities. However, people who live in places like Malibu and Sonoma have fire, earthquake and flooding insurance. Your worries and aid should go to the animal life and the people who lost everything and do not have the resources to recover.

Let’s talk about why these fires are so terrible. California is a huge state; in Los Angeles county alone, there are roughly 13 million people. The palm trees feel like a conditioned depiction of Los Angeles, but most plants in California are non-indigenous plants. Most green life is not accustomed to surviving the desert terrane. Now, with climate change and record-high heat waves, the heat kills most green life. During our version of winter, we’ll see low of 60 and dropping into the low 50s at night. Northern parts of the state like San Francisco and Sacramento will have an abundance of rain. The southern parts like Los Angeles and San Diego will have more rain but not nearly as much.

So what’s been happening is, during the cooler months we’ll get large amounts of rain, way more than we are used to, and then have extreme heat waves reaching 113 degrees. All the green plants will grow back in abundance and then die, turning the state a yellow-brown color. The Santa Anna winds will move in and blow with extreme force, sparking a small burn that turns into a billion-dollar fire.

Words are important. What you ask has a serious effect on people. Don’t donate to just any website you find on Instagram. I suggest if you’re looking to help in any way, try donating to these places.

1. The California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund

2. The Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation

3. Baby2baby

4. Direct relief

This is just to name a few. Do research if you’re interested; there are many other organizations trying to help.

This article was originally published in the Dec. 14, 2018 issue.