On Sunday, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a new State of Emergency proclamation due to wildfires raging in five counties.
The proclamation covers three major fires currently blazing in California: the Creek Fire in Fresno, Madera, and Mariposa Counties, the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County, and the Valley Fire in San Diego County. The fires have grown rapidly in the last few days, with the Creek Fire now reaching 45,000 acres in the Fresno area and the El Dorado Fire going from 1,800 acres on Sunday to nearly 8,500 acres on Monday. Tens of thousands of people have also been evacuated due to the fires.
Governor @GavinNewsom issued an emergency proclamation for the counties of Fresno, Madera and Mariposa due to the #CreekFire; for San Bernardino County due to the #ElDoradoFire; and for San Diego County due to the #ValleyFire. https://t.co/fjoEuF8lW0
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) September 7, 2020
Many state regulatory and licensing laws have been temporarily in response to the fire, with the proclamation giving a special provision to removing the one week wait on unemployment filings for those who lost their job due to the fire. The National Guard is also being called in to assist with the new fires.
Unlike previous fires caused by lightning strikes and electrical discharges, some of the fires in the proclamation were caused by unusual events.
“One fire, the El Dorado Fire, was caused by a gender reveal party of all things, ” Dan Ramirez, a hiker who was among the first people to spot the blaze, told the Globe in an interview. “There were these people off to the side when this smoke thing erupted. I remember thinking to myself “This is so stupid. Someone could have gotten hurt.” Well, I hate it when I’m right. They started trying to water down the smoking grass, but I’ve done enough grass clearing to know that isn’t enough.”
“It was in the 110s, with COVID-19, a bad economy, and wildfire conditions, and they were callous enough to do something like that. It’s bewildering.”
The El Dorado fire, as well as previous wildfires dating back to an Arizona wildfire in 2017, have been caused by gender reveal parties. It has become such a problem that the woman who started the craze, Jenna Karvunidis, is now begging for people to stop such events.
The wildfires are also expected to have a budgetary toll, as several other wildfires earlier this year, including two wildfires in August causing a previous state of emergency, have been draining funds fast. California has emptied it’s wildfire budgets in years past, including during the devastating 2014 wildfire season, and has only stayed above the line so far due to a budget increase in wildfire prevention earlier this year,
Wildfires in 2020 have so far killed 8 people in California and destroyed nearly 4,000 structures.