Tragic fires in California in 2017 caused close to a hundred deaths, several thousand structures burned, unhealthy air quality as well as catastrophic damage to the environment. The total losses are estimated at over 15 billion dollars.
Three fires in Napa and Sonoma Valleys, CA have destroyed over 10 thousand houses in October. They all broke out on a Sunday evening, between 9 and 11 p.m. People were getting ready to sleep. They didn’t expect the flames would soon strike with their devastating force. The fire was spreading rapidly, accelerated by the 50 mph winds, dry plants, and extremely low air humidity.
The Thomas Fire was the largest flashfire in the modern history of California, spreading over 270 thousand acres, desolating the area near Los Angeles for more than a month. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated, however, after spending weeks in shelters there was nothing they could return to. The fire took everything from them. Similar to the Napa and Sonoma Valleys fires, the Thomas Fire also broke out in the evening.
Although firefighters are equipped with numerous tools to fight the flames, it is very often too late and fire detection time is to blame here. Official statistics show, over 90% of fire reports come from local communities struck by the fire itself. It is not that surprising. Once we notice the source of danger, we do all we can to confine it. Worried about our safety, we grab our phones and call emergency numbers as quickly as possible. But what if we could shorten fire detection time to just a few minutes? How different would be the fates of people from Napa Valley and Los Angeles? Unfortunately, we might only guess. What we know is that after the first hour of the fire, the flames became too much for the firefighters to handle. The first hour was key.
We, the conscious members of our society, can become true heroes, so let’s be vigilant and observe the immediate surroundings. Who knows, maybe our call to rescue services will save lots of people? It is also worth using available monitoring systems. They can much faster inform the appropriate people once they spot smoke.