2020 California Wildfire Season


Kelsie Barba, Writer

2020 has been quite the year, from a worldwide pandemic to the loss of beloved NBA player Kobe Bryant, calling 2020 a “bad year” would be an understatement. You may have noticed that the sun has had an orange tint these past few weeks, that is because we are currently in the 2020 California wildfire season. One major ongoing event that has been taking over California by storm this year is the massive increase of wildfires consuming the whole state. Over 7,400 wildfires have occurred just this year alone across all of California. The year of 2020 is now being claimed as “the largest wildfire season” to ever be recorded in California history.


As of August 19, 2020, over 360 wildfires have been reported, many being caused by massive thunderstorms due to large heat waves and tropical storms. Approximately, over 1,800,000+ acres have been burned with a whopping total of 3,855 structures being damaged and/or destroyed, according to the Cal Fire website. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the seasonal outlook for the months of September and October don’t show any major signs of putting a stop to the wildfires anytime soon. September is reported to have an “unpleasant” outlook due to the above average wildfire risks, mostly being due for the majority of Northern California. For October, the status of wildfire risks is expected to go back to a normal amount.


This surplus of wildfires has caused a concerning amount of damage to the state of California. Some wildfires that have occurred near Santa Maria which have burned over 1,000 acres include fires “Range” which burned 5,000 acres in San Luis Obispo County, “Scorpion” which burned 1,395 acres in Santa Barbara County, and “Holser” which has burned 3,000 acres in Ventura County, all of this according to the 2020 California Wildfires Wikipedia page. Some of the largest fires to hit California this year include the series of wildfires known as the “SCU Lightning Complex fires”, which are ongoing fires burning through the Diablo Range. These fires were caused by lightning and began on August 16th, causing distraught to the counties of Alameda, Merced, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus. According to Cal Fire, a total of 92% of the entirety of these fires have been contained as of September 6th.


As 2020 nears its end in just three months, many Californians hope the number of wildfires will decrease as time goes on. The cost of this fire season is currently over $760 million and more than 16,000 firefighters have been deployed to fight these deadly fires. It has been estimated that about 12,000 lightning strikes have hit California in August and since then, many hills and acres across California have been heavily charred. More than 60,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and cities. This 2020 wildfire season is expected to end when a large winter rainstorm arrives, which could not occur until roughly through the months of November to December. What are your thoughts on this year’s California wildfire season?