Raging Wildfires in Western States of USA

More than 300,000 acres are burning across six states across the west coast of United States on Sunday. This event was triggered by a record-breaking heat wave in the region.

Communities have been told to evacuate while firefighters battle the wildfire in the extreme conditions. Firefighters from several wildfires in the region said, the air is so dry that most of the water dropped by aircraft to extinguish the flames evaporates even before it reaches the ground. On Saturday, two firefighters in Arizona died when their aircraft crashed while trying to extinguish the roaring flames. In California, residents were urged to cut power consumption after interstate power lines were caught on fire. In the north of Nevada, near the border with California, wildfires were triggered by lightning strikes in the Sierra Nevada Forest region. Reports have said that a fire, which doubled in size between Friday and Saturday, sent up a giant cloud of smoke and ash, combining with the dry heat to generate its own lightning.

Experts say that climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves. Las Vegas had its all-time high temperature of 47.2 Celsius. The west coast experienced it’s hottest June ever, this year. It comes just weeks after another dangerous heatwave hit North America, in which hundreds of sudden deaths were recorded.

This event is not new. Every year thousands of acres of land and wildlife is burned by wildfires in California and the neighboring west coast states. They have been growing in size and intensity, and have been particularly devastating in the last three to five years. California’s population has doubled since 1970, from 20 million to almost 40 million. Also during this period, climate change has extended the fire season by at least 75 days since the 1970s, putting millions more lives in danger.

For the past few years, wildfires have been an annual, or even monthly event, not only in the US, but many parts of the world. As the need of serious action against climate change is being more and more urgent, there must be steps taken to fight and control wildfires. More funds should be given for research. Properly funded research could study the best ways to predict high-risk areas for wildfire and to better understand how climate change is shifting how wildfires behave. Strict environmental laws need to be passed by the government and enough wildfire disaster relief funds must be used effectively and efficiently to prevent spread of wildfires and protect the people living close to potential threat from wildfires.

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