California Still Burning



Hillside next to freeway exit to Avila Beach where a fire happened earlier this year. Luckily, no structures were damaged.

Sage Champion, staff writer

For months now California has been going through the worst fire season ever in recent history. According to Cal Fire’s website, since the beginning of the year, there have been over 8,100 wildfires that have burned well over 3.9 million acres in California. Twenty-nine of them are still burning, and the residents of California are still feeling the effects.

Retired firefighter Russel Sechler has worked for every fire station in Santa Barbara County. Even after retiring, he still keeps up with the fire situation in California. “It’s not the worst fire season ever, but probably the most burning at one time,” Sechler says. “The fire departments get overwhelmed and have to bring in state and federal funding when they get this big,” Sechler also noted.

Counties must take precautions before the fire season by having different types of controlled burns. If they neglect doing so, there is more fuel for these massive fires.

The August Fire is the biggest group of fires right now, over one million acres of land has already been burned and it’s only 67% contained according to the Cal Fire website. This is now a federally-controlled fire — it takes millions of dollars that individual stations and even the state don’t have. This helps the stations too because they can focus on smaller more local fires.

The daughter of a firefighter and fellow NHS student Lauren Cruz explained some of the aspects of living with a firefighter. “Sometimes [my dad’s] gone for up to 21 days at a time, but usually just two to three weeks,” she explains. “It’s super scary because sometimes when they are in the mountains they don’t have service so sometimes we can’t talk for a day or two.”

Most people don’t even think about all the sacrifices firefighters make. Not only is it a dangerous job, but they don’t get to see their family, and have to work long workdays or even weeks sometimes.