By Candace Kellner
More than 1,000 homes and hundreds of buildings have been destroyed due to large wildfires burning for days in Northern California, as of Monday, Sept. 21, reported CNN. Three deaths have occured, as well — a 72-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis who couldn’t get out of her house, an elderly person found by cadaver dogs and a 66-year-old man who did not follow orders to evacuate, reported CNN. More than 70,000 acres of land have charred, according to CNN.
Veteran firefighter Bob Cummensky recently lost his home in Middletown, Calif., to the blaze.
“It’s such a beautiful area and it’s changed forever,” he told CNN, pointing to the scorched landscape.
Tammy Moore was at work when the Valley Fire leveled her home in Cobb, Calif.
“(It is) so much worse than I thought it would be,” Moore told CNN. According to California’s Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci, the Valley Fire has displaced about 13,000 people.
Another 11,000 residents in Amador and Calaveras counties have been ordered to evacuate because of the Butte Fire, which has scorched more than 71,000 acres and destroyed 166 homes.
While the “fire season” used to be a confined period, it’s now a year-round occurrence thanks in part to a historic drought that has left dry fodder — the perfect fuel for a fire.
“We don’t see an end in fire season for… months to come,” Chief Ken Pimlott, Cal Fire’s director, told CNN. “We’re in this for the long haul.”
Middletown resident Craig Eve searched the remains of his old home and found just a blackened chimney. Eve told CNN that he sees this as a fresh start.
“It’s a new beginning even though I’ve lost everything, and that’s the way you have to do it. You have to have a positive attitude,” he said. “With that attitude I can’t wait to clear my house and start building again.”
Light rain predicted in the weather forecast may relieve the Valley Fire area. The rainfall could help firefighters better contain the wildfire, according to the National Weather Service. However, the relief will be temporary.
The number of land and people affected this year is already greater than the past decade, according to CNN. Unusually large amounts of dry tinder, deriving from years of drought in California, helped the wildfires burn more land at a faster pace.