This year, in my social studies class, we have continuously discussed forest fires in California and their effects on the environment. I’ve always been extremely interested in this topic, in hopes that I can raise awareness and help make a change. Recently I have begun studying and researching how much land we are slowly losing to these damaging disasters, and the major impact they are having on humanity. I’ve noticed an ongoing trend in how these fires are starting, and I am extremely eager to share all of the new information and statistics I have found on this topic in the past year. Forest fires have been around for an incredibly long time, and have become increasingly worse in the US for many reasons. From November 2019 to June 2020, there were 124,473 wildfires in The United States, which is surprisingly low compared to 2021. From November 2020 to June 2021, there were exactly 345,989 fires, showing a 177.96% increase from past years. Forest fires in the US are most common in warmer climates that are more prone to droughts, such as the West Coast and Florida. The largest recorded wildfire of 2021 was called, “The Dixie Fire”, and it occurred from July 13th, 2021 to October 25th, 2021. This fire annihilated forests in Butte, Plumas, Tehama counties, and Shasta, California. The cause of this fire is unknown, yet researchers do know that it began in Feather river Canyon, which is near Cresta Dam. The raging flames destroyed over 1,329 buildings and 963,309 acres of land in Butte County. Although The Dixie Fire was caused by unknown sources, there are three main ways forest fires are started. These are burning buildings that spread into forests, malfunctions of equipment, and smoking. 90% of forest fires are actually caused by humans, which can be intentional or involuntary. Some ways people have started forest fires are by committing arson and leaving campfires unattended. It is also common for smokers to dispose of a burning cigarette by dropping it on the ground, which can result in large fires. On September 5th, 2021, in El Dorado Ranch Park, California, a baby gender reveal party took place that ended in disaster. During this party, a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device was used to reveal the baby’s gender. However, the device ignited the four foot tall grass in the park and started a raging wildfire. Though this was not an intentional fire, the couple still faced manslaughter charges due to all of the damage that occurred. The wildfire spread quickly, and spread into the San Bernardino National Forest in California within a couple weeks. On September 17th, a firefighter lost his life while trying to settle the fire. Just one day later, the fire spread to over 20,000 acres total, although already 66% of it had mostly been contained. This was not the first time a gender reveal party sparked a flame, and it certainly won’t be the last. Unfortunately, these fires have a major impact on humanity and the environment, which could possibly affect us in the future. Why are forest fires so damaging? For the environment, forest fires are a natural occurrence, but they have terrible effects on forests and the habitats within. Animals that live in trees such as squirrels, owls, and raccoons lose their homes because of these fires! Most cannot escape trees fast enough, and end up losing their lives. However, others must find new areas to live in, which can cause overcrowding in certain areas of the world. Not only can overcrowding occur, but animals will end up losing their lives anyway. Every living organism requires shelter, and without it, they will not survive. This pushes animals closer to extinction, such as the Hastings River Mouse. Over 50% of their habitat has been destroyed by bushfires, leaving them more vulnerable to predators and starvation. Birds such as the Glossy Black Cockatoo are also facing endangerment because their food source has been destroyed in these terrible fires. When will this torture end? How do forest fires affect humanity? Smoke from these fires increases air pollution and lowers air quality in areas around burning forests. This can cause respiratory issues for people such as bronchitis and emphysema. It can also cause eye irritation from dust particles, which can create serious damage if not removed. Air pollution also affects the circulatory system in humans, causing heart failure, which is when the heart cannot pump blood efficiently. This leads to the body not receiving enough oxygen and fluid build up in limbs, which could possibly result in death. Other than health issues, people can also lose their homes due to a large spread of fires into a neighborhood. People may lose their jobs because buildings burn down, and they can lose their lives if caught in the flames. How can we help limit wildfires? First off, allow them to obey the law and do not smoke or light a campfire where it is prohibited. Not only could this result in a fire, but it could also lead to further punishment in jail. When lighting a campfire, ensure your safety and the environment’s safety by bringing fire blankets and extinguishers in case of an emergency. Though there are many more safety precautions to go over, always educate yourself before using smoking devices or lighting a fire. It is incredibly important to preserve our land, and to protect ourselves from the danger of fire.