A World of Wildfires

World watches in horror as wildfires tear through US and EU.

What do California and Greece have in common? They are both being overwhelmed by massive and deadly wildfires this summer.

As many of you have probably noticed, much of the United States is experiencing particularly brutal heatwaves this summer. These hot days are uncomfortable, but their impact goes far beyond the weather… The heatwaves have ignited massive forest fires that are devastating much of the country. Northern California, an area prone to fire-related disasters, is suffering a particularly heinous fate. Massive fires are sweeping through the state, killing scores of citizens and the firefighters trained to protect them. The Carr fire, one of 16 fires ravaging California, has incurred an official death toll of six, including 2 young children. In addition, seven people are still unaccounted for. As of July 30, 2018, the fire has burned nearly 99,000 acres and is only 20 percent contained. California is not the only state facing these issues - Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and others are battling their own blazes.

“This fire is extremely dangerous and moving with no regard for what’s in its path,” - Bret Gouvea, the incident commander for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

FEMA is jumping in to mitigate the destruction, and have approved fire management grants for the Chelan Hills fire in Washington state, Mendocino Complex Fire in California, Grassy Ridge Fire in Idaho, and Park Road Fire in Texas. Although these grants will aid in the mitigation and recovery, they are likely not enough to be a permanent fix.

In Europe, Greece has been receiving the most coverage for its particularly devastating and vicious wildfires. One coastal area to the east of Athens has been engulfed by a massive fire that has already killed 91 people. The Prime Minister of Greece has declared a state of emergency and has mobilized firefighters and military in an attempt to stop the fires. Other European countries have come to the aid of Greece, sending firefighters, planes, and other vehicles. Compounding the impact, Greece is one of ten other European countries suffering through catastrophic fires right now!

While the United States and Europe are both suffering similarly this season, the ways in which they are handling their disasters are different. The United States is relying greatly on government programs like FEMA who can provide funding to local agencies to stop the fires from decimating the country. Conversely, European countries are placing an equal emphasis on aid from the government and assistance from allies. The United States may need to start turning to its neighbors and allies to help protect our communities from fires. Global partnerships matter when it comes to disasters. It is possible that if the United States had any allies on which to rely, we too could get better help stopping the fires that threaten the well-being of our citizens.  

Oliver SperansComment