California Wildfires: How can they affect us?

Sara Sanguinetti, Staff Writer

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California is in wildfire season again – and this time, the fires are more widespread and intense.

Each late summer, wildfires blaze throughout California, destroying wildlife and homes. 2018’s wildfire season is reportedly the worst in state history, with fires so far burning 810,000 acres of land against a previous yearly average of 720,000.

While Amador Valley isn’t close to many of the fires raging all over California, students and teachers alike are still affected by the bad air quality.

“I have asthma, so it makes me feel very bad sometimes and it makes it really hard to breathe,” said Alyssa Samuli (‘19)

Students in sports, marching band, and other outdoor extracurriculars are especially affected by the smoke during practices and competitions.

“It has actually affected us sometimes with the air quality, especially since I’m a cross-country runner. Sometimes when we go outside to go on a run we have to be careful that we don’t overdo it because of the fires and how the smoke has affected the areas around us,” said Isabelle Smedley (‘19).

Nikki Bondale (‘21) added, “When people go outside, they can’t do strenuous workouts or anything that they usually do because of the air quality. It can damage your lungs and make you sick.”

Students have good reason to be wary of the air quality. Smoke from the wildfires has been proven to contain harmful particles, including carbon monoxide and carcinogen polyaromatic hydrocarbon. These and other components of smoke leads to sickness, heart damage, and cancer.

In the heart of the fires, whole towns are being evacuated, leaving homes in the blaze’s path. Along with the loss of property, many people have died in the fires, a high percentage including firefighters combating them.

With wildfires igniting all over California, it is possible one could start near Pleasanton. Some are worried about the vague evacuation procedures.

“I’m really freaked out by the fires in north county, like the Napa fires from a year ago, because as I look around the tri valley, we look just like their territory. I think there should be more public service announcements of where to go and what we need to do,” said Amador Valley social studies teacher, Mairi Wohlgemuth

State officials and environmentalists are debating on what is the best course of action to reduce the number of wildfires. Experts suggest inducing controlled fires to burn away flammable brush and thinning forests by increasing logging.

“More controlled burns, getting some of that debris that’s just dry, dead plant material that is very combustible, trying to clear that,” proposed Amador Valley math teacher Jason Oswalt. “That’s an expensive task, but that’s kinda your best bet.”

The amount of fires in California is expected to increase over the next century. With this, hopefully an effective solution is quickly decided to combat their destruction.

           Mercury News

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