California Governor Jerry Brown sent a message to the citizens of the state in the sprout of devastating wildfires over the last week. He said that this is the “new normal” of fire risks which are exacerbated by climate change.

About 800 houses and other structures have been destroyed by the recent fires in Southern California. One person lost its life because of the so-called Thomas Fire in Ventura County, which started on Monday. Firefighters have tried their best in battling the six major fires that have emerged in the region. The threat is not over.

Climate Change, Wildfires in California, Thomas Fire, Venture County, devastation in California, California Governor
Wildfire continues affecting structures in California. Image Credit: Los Angeles Times

“We’re facing a new reality in this state, where fires threaten people’s lives, their property, their neighborhoods, and of course billions and billions of dollars,” Brown said at a news conference. He called California a “very wonderful place, but a place that’s getting hotter,” said California Governor Jerry Brown.

A landscape of dream wrapped in fire

Southern California is a landscape of dreams, without a doubt. However, this sun-drenched paradise can sometimes feel like a nightmare, and its inhabitants might have felt it this way since the fires began earlier this week. On Monday night several neighborhoods – such as Ventura and Sylmar, Santa Paula and Bel-Air, Malibu and Bonsall – were wrapped by the wildfires.

More than 800 structures have come down to ashes as they faced the burning flames. 537 of them were destroyed because of the Thomas Fire, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire. One death was reported.

California governor, Jerry Brown, visited Saturday the areas that were devastated by the massive wildfires. He warned citizens that the state is facing a new normal of fires and said they are a response to climate change.

“And we know from the changing in the climate that it’s going to exacerbate everything else,” Brown said.

Brown also warned that with the threats of climate change, California citizens must be aware that there will be more droughts and fires. He said that changes might be necessary for the way forest and buildings are managed. He said fires like the ones that Southern California is facing, must occur several times a year.

Climate Change, Wildfires in California, Thomas Fire, Venture County, devastation in California, California Governor
Devastation in California after wildfires. Image credit: NBC News

People must prepare to leave if necessary

Firefighters have tackled the fire in specific areas over the past week. They battled the six main fires in southern California, according to Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott. However, Pimlott highlighted that the danger is far from being over and that strong winds could continue into this week.

On the other hand; people in Ventura County must be ready to leave if necessary. According to Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen the Thomas Fire, which as of Saturday was at 148,000 acres and 15 percent contained, has grown in the northern areas.

Marie McTavish, a 65-year-old woman, said it was a traumatic experience when she tried to evacuate her horses because of the fire from the ranch her family has owned in Ojai for more than 30 years.

They took the horses to the Ventura County Fairgrounds; it has had already exceeded its capacity because of other animals that were brought there because of the flames.

“We saw the fire coming down the ridge,” she said.

Her property remained standing, but others in Southern California were not so lucky.

The so-called Lilac Fire broke out in San Diego County on Thursday, then it went into San Luis Rey Training Facility, causing the death of more than 40 elite thoroughbreds and destroyed more than 100 homes. That fire has burned 4,100 acres, according to Cal Fire.

Another fire, Skirball Fire, emerged in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel-Air on Wednesday. It destroyed multimillion houses near the Getty Center and its precious and priceless art collections. It burned more than 15,000 acres and destroyed 56 homes and 46 outbuildings since it broke out.

The Creek Fire in Los Angeles County broke out near the Los Angeles community of Sylmar, causing evacuations. Cal Fire said on Saturday that it was 80 percent contained.

“It’s December, and it’s amazing to be able to say we aren’t out of fire season,” Pimlott said. “And this is the challenge that we face in California and certainly here in Southern California, that it is a year-round challenge that we are all in.”

Pimlott expressed 8,500 firefighters are trying to reduce the fires in Southern California. Ten western states – including Montana, Alaska, and New Mexico – have sent firefighters and other sources of help to California.

In October, just a few months ago, parts of northern California faced devastating wildfires that caused the death of more than 40 people and destroyed about 900 homes and other structures.

Source: NBC News