Malibu Fires Essay

2414 words - 10 pages

About the Malibu Fires -Malibu FiresHuman beings are able to adapt to almost any environment, unfortunatelysometimes we take advantage of our natural surroundings. We find ourselves amidst astruggle between our lifestyles and nature. Although we affect nature profoundly withour activities, we in turn are shaped by nature's potent forces. Nature can be brutal tohumans, but we must remember that it merely is following its course. As a result, wemust learn to coexist with it. Fire is a naturally occurring phenomenon which humanshave learned to deal with throughout history. Yet when fire burns uncontrollably, there isgreat potential for monumental damage to all surrounding biomass. The Malibuwildfires are an example of one such instance.Historically, wildfires had been left to burn uncontrolled for weeks. Fires werecaused by different sources such as lightning or human hunters who wanted to chaseanimals out of the woods. As prolonged as these fires were, they had limited catastrophiceffects on the nomadic humans. This is due to the low population density and the factthat the fires were not very intense. As people began to change from a hunting-gatheringsociety to agriculturists, they settled in communities. Homes built among the wild brushwere perfect prey to wildfires. Initially, wildfires were put out immediately and peoplewere barred from setting fires in open spaces. Due to the policy of fire suppression, onlyone percent of all wildfires escaped early control. The land was safe from firestemporarily, but this set the stage for catastrophe as the brush grew more dense.There have been more than 20 catastrophic wildfires in Los Angeles County sincethe beginning of organized fire protection. The first 'big one' happened in December of1927. The fire started in the La Crescenta Valley, climbed over the Verdugo Mountainrange and destroyed more than 100 homes.In addition to the damage caused in 1927, fires have profoundly affected theSouthern California environment. Almost every square mile of chaparral land in LosAngeles county has been burned at least once, since 1919. There are basically two largefire breeding grounds in Los Angeles county: the San Gabriel Mountain range and theSanta Monica Mountains. In 1993, the Kinneloa Fire in Altadena caused a great amountof damage to the surrounding area and destroyed 121 homes in the foothills of the SanGabriel Mountains. It was the most devastating fire in the area, surpassing the previousworst fire in 1980 that burned 55 homes at the mouth of the San Gabriel Canyon. Thetotal damage caused by wildfires in the San Gabriel Mountains within the past 60 yearsamounted to the loss of 332 homes.Statistically, Malibu and its surrounding area has seen much damage done to itsvegetation and inhabitants. There have been 24 wildfires that burned a total of 271,047acres since 1927. These fires have caused a total of five deaths and the destruction of1,502 homes along with 830 other structures. Recent fires include the...

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