California Fires: A State in Flames
about a week-and-a-half ago...
I started writing about the differences between the Spanish Influenza of 1918 compared to the Coronavirus pandemic we are living through today. I will get back to that post eventually, but literally hours after I started writing, news started spreading about another disaster broadsiding our coast.
I’m obviously talking about the fires that are still rampaging up and down the state.
As of now, here are the current statistics according to https://www.fire.ca.gov/:
- Over 1.4 million estimated acres burned
- More than 7 thousand active fires
- 3 thousand plus structures damaged (including family homes and businesses)
- 5 losses of life
These abysmal numbers are still rising nearly two weeks after the onset. Once again, we are being bludgeoned by the ever-growing cliche of “unprecedented times”, so much so that even news about the California fires is already taking a back seat to the next hot topic (no pun intended).
Until the blazes are stamped out...
it’s imperative we don't lose sight of the issue that is literally threatening the way of life in the state. Perhaps most importantly, we need to look at who is on the front lines of the disaster.
Currently, there is a wide range of people battling wildfires that are (as of now) the third and second largest fires in California state history. Cal Fire department alone has deployed nearly 12 thousand firefighters across the state, and as you’ve probably seen in the videos circulating social media, their jobs are seriously intense.
Not only are they putting out mega blazes, but they’re also doing the manual labor of transporting supplies, digging terrain barriers, or operating dangerous machinery that can easily take someone’s life (this has already happened in several instances this year).
In my opinion, these are the people who we should be funding substantially with our tax dollars. At the very least, our morality should push us towards helping these brave people with their struggles.
Just try to imagine saddling up for a day of running into burning fields, forest, or entire neighborhoods that are completely up in flames. It’s absolutely terrifying, and a bad day at the office for a firefighter isn't something most of us are able to fathom.
To darken the scenario even more...
many of these firefighters don’t get to go home at the end of the day, but rather back to their prison cells.
I’m not trying to use a flippant metaphor here: California has hundreds of firefighters who are currently serving prison sentences. These are men and women who despite their previous offenses have earned the right to work in one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, and yet they walk away (hopefully) making $1.00 an hour.
Compounding these absurdly low wages that can easily sway the topic into a discussion about slave labor, upon their release, former felonies prevent individuals from working as civilian firefighters. From where I am standing, an individual who has served time, put their life on the line, and been released is rehabilitated enough to continue the work they’ve labored over while incarcerated.
(Photo MARK RALSTON/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
What this all amounts to...
is a multi-layered mess of a disaster (very fitting for the times, if I made add). Of course, this too shall pass, and as the fires do get wrangled under control, we must think of the choices we make in order to help the future of our State.
It’s why going green is so important. Or why paying attention to climate change is such a crucial part of our personal history. It’s why we are doing our best to find sustainable ways to produce our projects and help in the small ways we can.
Personally, we as a team have a long way to go as well, and we are far from putting ourselves on a pedestal of perfection. What we do have is awareness of the issues, and a network of amazing people that we know share our values.
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