A number of fires have taken a huge toll on communities in California, covering an area of 50 square miles, according to Newsweek.
Thomas Fire, the first fire, started on Monday, December 11 in the Ventura County area around Los Angeles, where many homes and around 150 buildings were engulfed in flames. As of now, officials do not know how the fire started, although it is spreading rapidly due to winds reaching up to 60 miles per hour. It has been joined by three other fires, all bringing devastation and trauma to the state.
“This is the most serious fire I’ve witnessed,” says Bella Batres, a citizen of Ventura. “There have been many wildfires in my area throughout my life, but thankfully the worst they’ve done is force us to evacuate.”
“I’ve known a few people [whose] families have lost their houses in fires and it was devastating for them to have to let go of all their memories of their homes,” she adds of the hardships that many have had to face. “The…hospital I stayed at in January was burned to the ground last week during the Thomas fire, which was tragic because all those people, even children, had to be relocated, some to other states. It’s hard enough getting used to residential… treatment, but being sent to a new hospital because of a tragedy like the Thomas fire must be even more traumatic.”
Unfortunately, even those whose houses have remained untouched face difficulties because of the fire in their day-to-day lives.
“Because of the ash and bad air quality, everyone here is highly suggested to wear face masks when they go outside. They get very annoying after a few days, but [the] air smells horrible and is really bad for our lungs, so the masks are necessary,” says Batres.
On the bright side, California communities have come together to support those who have lost everything.
“In Ventura, people have been very sympathetic to those who were affected by the fires. There are multiple churches and schools who have set up temporary food, water, clothing, etc. stations where victims of the fire can take what they need and the community can donate, too,” the 16-year-old says. “Everyone here is incredibly sad about that is happening to our state, and we are trying our best to help everyone.”
To help those whose belongings and homes have been burnt to the ground this holiday season, consider donating to the victims of the fires through https://app.mobilecause.com/f/hjr/n .