As a news journalist in the Northern Nevada area and having originated from Northern California, I’m no stranger to a wildfire. But oh, I wish I was.
While still in high school and living at home, I remember following fires closely. We had family friends living in the foothills, a place where fires happened often.
As someone that lives in Reno, I have the Reno Gazette-Journal app on my phone. Because I like to be in the know, I allow it to send me notifications for breaking news stories.
However, during the time span from late summer to early autumn, the only notifications I get on my RGJ app are about fires. I get that it’s important for people to know about them.
A new one has sparked here.
That one we told you that sparked last week? It’s only 50 percent contained now.
That one that was 50 percent contained yesterday? It’s the third largest in state history now.
That other one we told you sparked last week? It burnt half this forest and blocked a highway.
That one that took over the highway a month ago? It just robbed a car off the highway and put itself out.
Maybe those are exaggerations. However, the fact that these fires are extremely frequent and common are not. In addition, the frequent fires have almost desensitized us to how devastating a wildfire can actually be. The Mendocino Complex Fire, California’s most devastating fire to date, burned over 400,000 acres and surpassed the Thomas Fire in size. To put the size of these fires into perspective, my tiny hometown of Elk Grove had an average home property size of a quarter acre. That’s about 1,680,000 times the size of my home, including both my back and front yard. It’s practically the equivalent of burning my home over 1.5 million times. Basically.
What’s more frustrating than the frequentness of the fires is the way they’re getting started. Many of the recent fires from the 2018 fire season have been human-related. The Carr Fire began after a man blew out a tire, causing the metal rim to rub against the asphalt and sparks ignited. Why are we letting this happen? Replace your tires. You would have saved over 1,000 houses and over 200,000 acres. Sheer stupidity caused one of the most detrimental fires California has ever seen. The twelfth most devastating to be exact. This is pretty high on the list realizing that California has seen more than 4,000 fires since Jan. 1, 2018.
I could make this a rant about climate change and global warming, but frankly, I don’t want to. Let’s just water our grass and replace our tires in a timely matter.
Sincerely, a news journalist that is sick of writing about fires.
Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or of its staff. Olivia Ali studies journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.