The Dixie Fire is the second-largest fire in California’s history. According to CAL Fire, the department of forestry and fire protection of California, California averages 7,575 fires a year, covering approximately 2,333,909 acres.
The Dixie Fire burned for more than two months and stopped shy of one million acres, ending on Sept. 26. The fire destroyed more than 130 commercial buildings and more than 420 “minor structures,” such as homes.
The Dixie Fire seems to have been ignited by power lines. Power lines that are damaged may have their wires come in contact with trees, resulting in sparks and potentially fire. Power lines are the third most common cause for California wildfires, with equipment use being the second and the first being the burning of debris.
This number of fires burning in California impacts its residents.
Sarah Mandzok, freshman nursing student, agrees that California’s fires have an impact.
“Fires especially harm our farms,” Mandzok said. “Farmers’ supplies get destructed, and the livestock’s health declines. Any vegetation is destructed, too.”
Elizabeth Roe, freshman political science major, said the fires have had an impact on her life as a Californian.
“I’ve lived in California my whole life, and you can tell the effects of these fires,” Roe said. “As the fires get worse, the air quality gets worse, too. It smells like smoke and it’s harder to breathe. Especially since in California, it gets hot, so the smoke combined with the temperature just makes it hard to want to be outside sometimes.”
James DeRoos, former firefighter at the Arlington Fire Department, stated some of the impacts of the wildfires.
“Fires have effects not only on the environment but also on human health as well,” DeRoos said. “Health impacts could be as small as just eye or lung irritation, to very serious things such as bronchitis or asthma. Environmental impacts can include destroying homes, wildlife habitats (and) timber, and polluting the air.”
To attempt to find solutions for California’s wildfire problem and its effects, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a $15 billion investment package deal on Sept. 23. This investment is going to companies that combat the drought and climate change effects, as well as to a company that directly tries to prevent wildfires before they happen: Technosylva INC.
Technosylva is a company that invented a technology to help aid firefighters. This newest innovation is geological information system-enabled software that helps to predict a fire based on vegetation, current and predicted weather and topography. It can also help predict the path of the fire.
Different analytical outputs are being used, such as GIS maps, charts and reports. The software allows for real-time analysis of wildfire behavior and simulation, all of which can be completed within seconds. This Wildfire Analyst was specifically designed to be able to give fire chiefs and incident commanders the critical intelligence needed to support suppression and resource allocation.
Technosylva’s newest innovation not only will help with containing fires before they spread or even preventing them completely, but it will also help increase the safety of the firefighters and the public.
Hopefully, by investing in companies trying to combat the effects of wildfires — especially those working to innovate and improve existing technology — California will become less of a wildfire “hot spot” and we can begin restoring it to its natural beauty.