Anastasia Selby worked as a “wildland firefighter” for seven years in the 2000s. She knows her way around a fire, and she also knows that massive wild fires like the La Tuna Fire, which ignited on September 1 in Los Angeles and burned more than 7,000 acres, are becoming increasingly common in the age of climate change.
Meanwhile, there are 62 fires still “burning across nine states across the West,” Selby warns. “It will only get worse as the effects of climate change continue.”
“Wildland firefighters are especially attuned to how climate change puts us all at greater risk for destructive fires. We understand how higher temperatures and long-term drought are the perfect conditions for ignition,” Selby writes in Vox.
The good news is that temperatures lowered and the La Tuna Fire was eventually contained but the bad news is that Southern California’s real fire season hasn’t even started yet, says Selby. The hot, dry Santa Ana winds are due to blow through in late September and October, and fires during this time of year can often be ignited by a discarded cigarette butt or the spark from a motorcycle.
“The US Fire Service and Department of the Interior have reported spending more than $2.1 billion on fires this year so far, which is what they spent for the entire fire season in 2015,” Selby points out.
While there will always be women and men willing to do the intense and grueling work of fighting wildland fires, “the politicians in charge of climate change policies need to make these hotshots’ jobs a little easier.”