Wildfires spread, Californian Baylor students thankful to be away

The sunset during a wildfire in Yucaipa, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

Wildfires have been popping up all over California, leading to Governor Gavin Newsom to declare a statewide emergency. Now, Baylor students from California watch from afar as their home state burns.

This year there have been 5,924 fires that have burned 1,059,583 acres. For perspective, one acre is around the size of .75 football fields.

California has always had a dry season that would regularly lead to wildfires. However, within the past three years, wildfires have been more widespread and happened more frequently, Walnut Creek, Calif., freshman Tyler Ahrens said.

“Every year for about a month, the smoke is so bad you can’t breathe … It looks like the world’s going to end because the sky is so orange,” Ahrens said.

Stockton, Calif., freshman Max Aghazarian said he has seen his friends posting about how high the temperature has gotten in his hometown.

“I’m glad I left for Texas right when I did, because the fires got really bad the day after I left,” Aghazarian said. “I mean, it was always really hot when I was there. We had a whole week where it was 110. The weather in California right now, it’s just prime for breeding fires.”

The wildfires have affected the air quality and made it hard to breathe, Yorba Linda, Calif., junior Sophie Strobel said.

“It’s obviously sort of shocking just to see the news and know that’s a few minutes from my house,” Strobel said.

Ahrens said the cause of some of the forest fires is Pacific Gas & Electric power lines that are not up to code.

“[PG&E] cuts our power all the time almost every year. Whenever it gets hot, dry and windy, they’ll just cut our power. It’ll be a really hot day and we’ll be stuck without power,” Ahrens said.

PG&E would rather cut the power than fix their power lines, Ahrens said. Ahrens said he is glad to be at Baylor and away from the wildfires.

“I had to stick inside the month because of the coronavirus, and then there’s no escape when there’s smoke because it affects everywhere,” Ahrens said. “And now with the heatwave it’s super smoky and it’s super hot. I’m glad to be here because I have fresh air and everyone’s been texting me how much they wish that they were in a place with fresh air, in a place where they could go outside.”