This year’s wildfire season in the western half of North America is undeniably terrible, and it isn’t getting better. Scientists are saying that these are the driest conditions that California has faced in nearly 500 years–awful conditions for people and agriculture, but perfect for wildfires.
Right now, attention is focused on the Valley fire, a fire that started north of San Francisco on Saturday afternoon, and then spread insanely fast. The fire’s cause is still unknown, but in the past 48 hours it has destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings, left four injured, and reportedly caused one fatality.
The fire has already burned through 61,000 acres and is only five percent contained (meaning they only have 5 percent of the fire surrounded). The people and machines working to control the fire include:
- 1,255 fire personnel including 30 fire crews
- 117 fire engines
- 4 air tankers (For a closer look at fire-fighting supertankers, look at this slideshow.)
- 10 Helicopters
- 24 Bulldozers
The crews are working to put out the fire and to limit its spread by building earthen barriers to redirect the fire away from vulnerable areas. And as impressive as that list of equipment is, it isn’t even the largest operation currently going on. At the Butte fire east of San Francisco, 4,409 fire personnel and 499 fire engines have managed to contain 30 percent of a fire that has already burned through 71,063 acres since it started on September 9.
If you want to see for yourself what the Valley fire is like, take a look at the harrowing video below, posted yesterday by YouTube user mulletFive, taken as he was escaping the Valley fire. The video does contain mild (and understandable) profanity.