With fires raging across California and throughout the American West, we here at Pacific Standard have been keeping a close eye on the wildfire season. We've written about specific fires, rounded up some of the most concerning ones, and explored the consequences of living in a world of more frequent and more damaging fires due to climate change.
Here are some of our recent stories about the 2018 wildfire season so far.
Charts and graphs put today's bigger and more costly wildfires in context:
As of Wednesday afternoon, California is contending with 16 major wildfires that have burned more than 300,000 acres, according to the Los Angeles Times. In recent years, the state has seen more frequent and damaging blazes, and spent ever-greater amounts of its emergency budget fighting wildfires, according to statistics collected by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire.
A look at the severe wildfires burning across the state:
The state has had this many incidents at once in previous years, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "But these are impacting communities—and they're large fires, not small," Jonathan Cox, battalion chief and information officer with Cal Fire, told the Los Angeles Times.
An expert weighs in on a major Colorado fire and what it means for the season ahead:
"Everybody's talking about a new normal. I actually think this is not a new normal. This is just normal. This is what we have been witnessing for at least a decade.
"Every fire season is going to be seeing incidents like this: fast-moving and erratically behaving fires, which only means we haven't seen [such behavior] before—which means we have to be alert to these massive changes that are taking place."
A photo essay shows conditions in Yosemite Valley as the Ferguson fire burned:
Since July 13th, the wildfire has burned across 45,911 acres and is only 29 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Although the flames are still two miles from the park, smoke from the fire has choked the valley and created air-quality conditions worse than in Beijing, Yosemite officials told the Los Angeles Times.
A look at what can happen when a wildfire image takes Instagram by storm:
It's no surprise that people are drawn to images like this. "Natural disasters are some of the most viscerally powerful things we see on this planet," says disaster researcher Mika McKinnon. "And to have that juxtaposed with a wedding—to have that contrast between chaos and order—is an aesthetically interesting thing."