The effect of wildfires on wildlife


Emer Martin

The California fires are some of the worst fires in history, with the August Complex fire being the worst ever recorded, and it’s still going strong. It has already burned 471,000 acres and likely will burn more. Almost 16,500 firefighters are still fighting the rest of the 28 critical fires in California. From the beginning of 2020 until now, California wildfires have burned more 3.2 million acres and counting. Up to date the fires have burned more land than the size of the state of Connecticut. This year’s fire season has been record breaking and it still has not come to an end, let’s hope it will end on a better note. The last month of fires has been devastating; for people and wildlife nearby. Many people lost their homes and some historical spots for nature and wildfire have been burned, some of them not reopening for a long time; including a big basin which is not reopening for at least another year. 

A lot of people are curious about what has caused the fires, and it has been confirmed that many of these fires have been caused by the recent lightning storm in August. The lightning strikes caused many mini fires that were hard for firemen to contain.  Fires were also in hard to access spots, like several that started in the Big Basin and spread from there. The other main cause of the fires has been confirmed to be an illegal COVID-19 party hosted for a couple’s gender reveal. However, the party was not 100% at blame for all of the fires; although many people took it upon themselves to blame the couple. So although they did cause a fire that burned over 10k acres and set several homes ablaze, they were not to blame for the 2.4+ million acres that are currently burning in California. But they have caused over 21k people to evacuate and should not be free of blame. Not only did they host an illegal party due to COVID-19, but they decided that it would be a good idea if the gender reveal included a smoke bomb. The problem is that they decided to do this in El Dorado Ranch Park, peak fire season, along with peak dryness and temperature. The smoke bomb went off, causing a blaze that was quick to spread and become what it is today.

Let’s talk about legal issues. Since the couple that started the fire is at fault for the El Dorado Ranch fire, they legally can be sued by anyone whose property or home has been damaged. If someone were to take legal action they would likely sue the couple for the damages of their property or home, meaning that if everyone whose property was damaged sued, the couple could be in deep trouble. On top of everyone with property damage the state of California can actually sue and/or fine the couple. If California does take legal action they may fine the couple for hosting a party during COVID-19 restrictions and for the money lost from the fires. This may include restoration costs, damage costs, and more. However, it is extremely unlikely that the state of California will take legal action against the couple further than a fine, as it would take months for the court action as the couple likely would be deep in debt if charges are prosecuted and pressed.  Not only that but other people are likely to press charges, and that would only push the court date later.

With the fires slowly spreading movement, much of the wildlife has been pushed out of the mountains. Many coyotes have been seen in more rural neighborhoods, leaving the forest to escape the fires. Other wildlife, including mountain lions, bears, rabbits, squirrels have been affected by the fires as well, and are seeking shelter in rural and suburban areas. If you see a mountain lion, bear, or a coyote where they are not supposed to be, call animal control so they can get the help they need with their habitats burning down.

Even with the current fire situation, most people in our general area are out of harm’s way, but the fires can change at any moment. To see if you are in a safe area check the fire map here: Stay safe!