Recent Events: California Wildfires

Over the past couple of weeks, we have all seen on the news about the devastating wildfires that have scorched Southern California. People have lost their homes and Southern California has seen tens of millions of dollars in damage, but it’s not over yet.

These wildfires have destroyed an area that is larger than New York City and Boston...combined. Here are the staggering numbers behind these wildfires:

  • 236,000 acres
    This is the impact of the Thomas Fire, the largest one that is ripping its way across Southern California. The fire started in Ventura County and is now moving its way across Santa Barbara County. The Thomas Fire is the fifth-largest blaze in modern California history.
  • $55.6 million
    This is the amount of money that has been spent fighting the Thomas Fire. It is estimated that this number will grow immensely since the fire has only been 25% contained since Tuesday.
  • 25,000 homes threatened
    There have been at least 25,000 structures that have been threatened by the five wildfires that have moved across California.
  • 1,000 structures destroyed
    More than 1,000 structures have been wiped out since the fires started and of those 1,000, it’s not clear how many were homes and how many were business.
  • 9,000 firefighters
    8,000 firefighters alone have been tackling the Thomas Fire alone and almost 9,000 remain on the line at all times. Thousands of firefighters from Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington State are also involved in battling the wildfires.
  • 85,000 power outages
    Santa Barbara County has suffered widespread power outages due to the Thomas Fire and these outages have left up to 85,000 customers without electricity.
  • 95,000 evacuees
    At least 95,000 residents have evacuated Southern California since the wildfires have started.
  • $10 billion
    2017 has been the costliest for wildfires in US history and damages have topped at $10 billion --  and this was before the current fires began in Southern California.


At the peak of the wildfires, the extreme fire danger warning has covered a population of nearly 20 million people. It is expected to remain dry for the next 7 days and another significant gust of wind could develop by the weekend.

One of the fires, named the Skirball Fire, consumed 400 acres and was caused by an illegal cooking fire at an encampment area for homeless in a brush area under the 405 freeway. The causes of the other major fires have yet to be determined.

Wildfires spread quickly and can be triggered without warning. If you want more information about preparing and surviving a wildfire, check out our blog “How To Survive A Wildfire”. If you haven’t already, sign up for text messages from Civil Dispatch to get alerts about severe weather and threats in your area.

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