Over the past twenty years or so, California's fire season has expanded from a late-summer nuisance to a nine-month volley of increasingly more catastrophic firestorms. Typically it rains enough between late November and mid-March to keep fire threats down, but our fire season now occupies nearly the entire period of time in between.
Last year saw parts of Santa Rosa, by far the largest city between the San Francisco-Sacramento I-80 corridor and the Oregon border, burned right to the ground. Hundreds of homes and buildings destroyed, thousands of people displaced. The fires disrupted the real estate market for a year, in about a hundred-mile radius, because of the sudden scarcities in an already scarce inventory.
This year has been non-stop all over the state, but especially burdensome in the relatively spare population areas of Northern California, the region commonly known these days as the State of Jefferson. The Carr Fire engulfed the Redding area for weeks, causing destruction that will take years to recover from. And now the rather poorly-named Camp Fire (named because it originated near Camp Creek Road, not because it was a campfire that got away from the campers) has claimed the entire town of Paradise, and is heading down Highway 99 toward Oroville. Somehow Chico has been spared. Fire crews from all over the country have pitched to help, and the fire is finally getting contained. It's supposed to rain this coming week, which should help finish off the damned thing.