The Aftermath of Wildfires
This is what a forest looks like after a wildfire has roared through its lands.
Trees that have stood their ground for hundreds of years are burned down to ashes.
The California wildfires are an annual phenomenon, typically occurring from May through October. In 2019, the wildfires destroyed 2,498,159 acres of precious Californian land.
We all know that the wildfires arrive every year and obliterate any area they reach, however, what happens after? After the fires stop? After the smoke clears?
The first step is emergency stabilization to ensure that no property suffers further harm, and this process could take over a year.
Then there is a rehabilitation process that focuses on the land that cannot naturally recover from the damage. The rehab method starts right after the fires are over and often continues for several years after that.
At the US Forest Service, this post-fire program is known as the Burned Area Emergency Response a.k.a BAER. The objective of BAER is to find threats that the wildfires cause, and to take actions against them.
BAER teams consist of hydrologists, soil scientists, engineers, biologists, vegetation specialists, archeologists, and other experts who treat and analyze the burned areas.
However, the work isn't only for the experts to do; it is also for homeowners whose home was in a wildfire danger zone. If you are returning home after a fire evacuation, it is essential to check the perimeter of your house to ensure no embers remain.
It is difficult enough to evacuate humans from wildfire-prone areas, but how do you evacuate animals? The answer is you don't.
Many animals try to outrun the fires, but those who can't try to hide. However, it is almost inevitable that some animals die, and others get terribly injured.
In 2018, The North Valley Animal Disaster Group took in almost 1,300 animals affected by the fire. These animals were then transferred over to veterinarians, who treated these animals.
There are programs where you can adopt a pet during a wildfire and fund their care, but also ones where you can advertise to have someone take care of your pet while you are living in temporary residences due to the wildfires.
The flames affect not only the land but also the water bodies surrounding it. They may contaminate water bodies, causing rivers, lakes, and ponds to spread unhealthy water.
According to The Conversation, “Benzene was found at concentrations of 40,000 parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water after the Tubbs Fire and at more than 2,217 ppb after the Camp Fire. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends limiting children’s short-term acute exposure to 200 ppb.” Imagine the difference. It's deadly!
The moral of the story is that the work of the firefighters and other experts doesn't end. After the fires, there is recovery work to be done, homes to be rebuilt, animals to be saved, plants to be re-planted, water to be replenished. Then summertime in California arrives, and the cycle starts all over again.
Wildfires claim thousands of acres of land every year just in California. Brave firefighters are put at the front of the lines every year, risking their lives, to save ours.
The TSB x HappyArt Firefighter Project (read about it in the New Project tab) is being conducted to say thank you to our local firefighters.
There are several ways you can contribute too:
Become a volunteer firefighter
and so, so, so many more!
It is important that YOU do YOUR part to serve YOUR community. The first step is to recognize the hard work of the people around you. Be curious! After all, curiosity is the key!
Until Next Time...
Stay Curious ;)