A State Ablaze

CompanyLos Angeles Times
PhotographerMarcus Yam
PrizeGold in Book (series Only) / Nature
Entry Description

California’s drought-parched landscape withered under record temperatures as nearly 7000 wildfires burned in the state this past fire season, burning nearly half-a-million acres of land. Thousands of homes were destroyed and countless families were forced to rebuild. The majority of California’s 10 largest wildfires in recorded history have occurred since the year 2008. In state with 38 million residents, firefighters are tackling faster-moving and more destructive wildfires, which can occur any month of the year, frustrating firefighters, terrifying residents, and destroying vast swaths of bone-dry forest.   “Right now, we’re at that point where I’m not surprised anymore. Before, maybe we’d have a fire that’d do this once or twice a year, and now everything in the beginning of the fire season is burning explosively. It’s not going to get any better this year. … It’s like we’re at war.” - Cal Fire Capt. Lucas Spelman