California Fires

October 25, 2019
FIGHTING THE FLAMES Firefighters battle the Saddleridge Fire, in Southern California, on October 11.
DAVID SWANSON—AP PHOTO

A wildfire that began on October 10 forced more than 100,000 people in Southern California to evacuate their homes. The Saddleridge Fire tore across more than 12 square miles of land around Los Angeles. It damaged at least 58 buildings.

The fire began in the evening. By the next morning, more than 1,000 firefighters were battling the flames. By October 13, the fire had been largely contained, and people began returning to their homes.

The cause of the fire is unknown. It was fueled by dry plants and trees after a hot California summer. It was then spread by powerful winds that were sweeping the region. “As you can imagine, the embers from the wind have been traveling a significant distance, which causes another fire to start,” Los Angeles fire chief Ralph Terrazas said.

Other parts of California were also on high alert for fires. In Northern California and the central part of the state, Pacific Gas and Electric switched off electricity to more than 2 million people. This was done to prevent fires. High winds increased the chances that power lines would fall and ignite a blaze. The electric company has taken similar action before. But this was the largest intentional blackout in its history. By October 12, power had been restored to nearly all of the affected customers.