California burns, residents hit with blackouts


Fire crews stage on a fire road in front of the Maria Fire Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, in Somis, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Matt Boecker

DeKALB — Warm, dry conditions combined with human error continue to make California a hot spot for wildfires.

As fires continue to burn California, CNN reports there are at least 13 fires burning as of Nov. 1.

In most instances, fires are caused by human activity. It could be a smoker’s cigarette butt, reckless use of fireworks or other various human activity that creates the spark for the fire, according to Popular Mechanics.

Pacific Gas and Electric may also be to blame for some of the current wildfires. PG & E has started more than one fire a day in in recent years, according to the Wall Street Journal. The utility company filed reports on Oct. 30 saying their equipment may have caused two current fires in the San Francisco Bay area. PG & E provides natural gas and electricity to much of Northern California including the cities of Sacramento and San Francisco.

Once there’s a spark, Mother Nature takes over.

California has been experiencing hot, dry days that make for ideal wildfire conditions. Once the fires start, it can force people out of their homes by local police because it’s too dangerous for them to remain there. The Westwood Recreation Center, located in Los Angeles, is housing people and pets with nowhere else to go, according to the Washington Post.

A current resident of the Recreation Center told the Washington Post that many people staying there are elderly. The resident said young people are better equipped to take everything they need and evacuate, whereas old people can only take the bare minimum with them if they hope to make it out alive.

In an attempt to be proactive, PG & E will shut-off electricity to those in areas that have ideal wildfire conditions in their weather forecast.

These blackouts take a toll on people who utilize home medical care, according to NPR. Those with chronic bedsores use air-pumped mattresses to prevent the condition from worsening, but they begin to deflate with the inability to add more air.

Ventilators and nebulizers require electricity to function, and electric wheelchairs will stop responding without electricity. Many people needing home care use landline phones, which makes contact with them difficult without electricity, according to NPR.