Officials from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services or Cal OES toured the devastation, the Dixie Fire is leaving behind as it continues to ravage four counties in Northern California.
“You drive through these communities and there’s very little standing … just completely just torn apart and gutted by wildfires,” says Jon Gudel, the public information officer for Cal OES.
He says they’ve been monitoring from the state’s capital where they’re activated and operating 24 / 7 to coordinate the thousands of firefighters and resources to battle this and 10 other large fires burning across the state, but seeing it in person takes it to a whole new level, “Heartbreaking to drive through these areas and see where just a few hours ago somebody’s whole livelihood was in their house or in a business and now it’s completely gone and taken forever.”
News that a former criminal justice professor has been arrested and charged with setting over half a dozen fires in the area is tough to swallow, but Gudel says they have to stay on task, “It’s very difficult to see when you go into the shelters and talk to these people have changed in a matter of moments and to think that maybe one person had an impact on that is hard to fathom and hard to understand but right now we’re such in the middle of this fight our focus is primarily on making sure that there’s no unmet need.”
At over half a million acres now the Dixie Fire is the largest, single fire in the state’s history, but what worries those who have to find and coordinate man power and resources to battle these blazes is that peak fire season is still months away.
“We’re getting lose to a million acres already burned just this year alone, and we’re only in August, historically October, November have been our challenging months for wildfires so we have a long way to go this year,” says Gudel.