How To Contain the Mendocino Complex Wildfire? By: Caroline Perez (Age: 13)
The Mendocino Complex Wildfire is the largest wildfire in California’s history, with it being more than 469 miles (300,000 acres), and only 47% contained. It may take until September to fully contain the fire. A multi year drought’s result of 1million dried, weakened, and dead trees fuel this fire, as well as climate change. If winds pick up to more than 35 miles per hour, California will be at the mercy of this raging wildfire. Thankfully, this week seems to be in favor of courageous 5,300 firefighters, risking their lives to try and contain the Mendocino complex wildfire. Sadly, 6 of these firefighters lost their lives fighting these fires. On the bright side, wildfire specialists and other firefighters from Australia and New Zealand are aiding California’s fire fighters. See how California’s firefighters are fighting one of the largest Wildfires in History.
First, let's talk about the history of wildfires in the US. In the United States, wildfires have a long and varied history. For most of the 20th century, any form of natural wildfire or otherwise were quickly contained, for fear of uncontrollable and destructive fires. In the 1960’s, policies governing wildfire suppression changed due to ecological studies that recognized wildfire as a natural process necessary for new growth.
Secondly, let's talk about wildfire protocol. Protection of intelligent life is first priority of firefighters. Since 1995, when arriving on a scene, a fire crew will establish safety zones and escape routes, verify communication, and designate lookouts (LCES). This will also allow firefighters to engage a fire with options for retreat should their current situation become unsafe. Although other evacuation areas should be established, areas already burned areas generally provide a safe haven from fire provided they have cooled sufficiently. This is because the burned area has been burned enough for the fire to not reignite. A great emphasis is placed on safety and the prevention of entrapment (where there is no possible way to escape from fire).
Thirdly, let's discuss the cost of the Mendocino Complex Wildfire. If California has 3,500 firefighters, with an additional 1,700 fighters hired each year, and an average firefighter’s salary is about $69,172, $69172 x 3,500 firefighters + ($69,172 x 1,700 firefighters) = about 4 – 4.5 billion annually ($359,694,400). Not to mention, California pays inmates $1 an hour to help fight the fire (except those with an active warrant, a history with Arson, medical issues, etc.), and more than 146 wildfire fighter specialists coming from Australia and New Zealand to fight blazes all across the US.
As you can see, the Mendocino Complex wildfire is one of the largest, deadliest, and costly wildfires in all of California’s history. Six firefighters have died, and tens of thousands of people threatened, more than 300,000 acres burned. What will happen next?