Northern California Wildfires Thread

[Content Note: Fire; displacement; death.]

Yesterday afternoon, I reported that there had been 26 confirmed deaths from the wildfires in California. By this morning, that number had climbed to 31.
The number of people confirmed dead in wildfires sweeping northern California has climbed to 31, as officials warned that conditions would worsen.

...Strong winds that have fanned the flames eased in recent days, but forecasters warned they were set to pick up again on Friday night.

...[T]he wildfires are the deadliest in California since 1933, when 29 people died in fires at Griffith Park in Los Angeles.
At the LA Times, Robin Abcarian has a harrowing account of a couple who survived by getting in their neighbor's pool. There they stayed for six hours while a wildfire burned down their neighborhood, worried their only choice might be to freeze to death in the water or burn in the flames. They were very lucky.

These are the choices people are having to make, the danger they're facing. Others might be able to evacuate easily and safely, but only to lose their homes.

Meanwhile, as Rachel Becker reports at the Verge, the abundant smoke is its own highly damaging concern: "Smoke and ash blanket the Bay Area in a layer of haze responsible for the worst air quality on record. The smoke has prompted local schools to close, and reduced visibility at Bay Area airports so much that flights were delayed, or canceled. For people who have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or heart conditions, just breathing this noxious air can be dangerous."

And naturally the lives of the more than 8,000 firefighters battling the blazes are constantly in danger. It's also a good time to recall Jamie Lowe's New York Times expose from August, about the incarcerated women who fight California's wildfires for "a maximum of $2.56 a day in [conservation labor] camp and $1 an hour when they're fighting fires."

(They "choose" this work, within the range of "choice" that exists for inmate laborers, often because "California's inmates typically earn between 8 cents and 95 cents an hour," so fighting fires can mean more pay, even despite its measly compensation.)

I don't know how many scandalously underpaid (and undertrained) incarcerated women are currently fighting these wildfires, but, in the NYT article, Lt. Keith Radey, a commander in charge of a camp where the women train, is quoted saying: "Any fire you go on statewide, whether it be small or large, the inmate hand crews make up anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of the total fire personnel." So it's probably quite a few.

My thoughts remain with everyone in the area: Residents, responders, healthcare workers. I am wishing you safety, even as I know that some will not find it.

As ever, please feel welcome and encouraged to share information, ideas, and resources in comments, and let's keep this an image-free thread. Thanks.

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