Shasta Students feel the burn as California wildfires rage on

By Ethaniel Reyes and Melissa Domingo

Staff Editors

There was a chill in the air as an orange sheet of clouds descended upon the Bay Area, blocking out any sunlight and giving the San Francisco city landscape an apocalyptic feel. For much of Wednesday, September 9th, darkness reigned.  It was just another strange day after a string of weeks of hazardous air quality and raining ash due to the numerous wildfires raging in California.

The mysterious orange air that swept through the skies of the Bay Area on the 9th of September grabbed the attention of many students at home attending virtual school. 

“The sky did look very pretty, I will say that,” remarked Ethan Taylor, Shasta Senior. For him, the smoke has been disconcerting, but, “school has definitely kept my mind off of it.”

The orange fog made its presence from the start of the day until the afternoon, with the sky turning more yellow at around 5pm. The orange color from the skies was a result of several wildfires across California and Oregon. 

Air quality worsened later in the week and through the weekend, reaching consistently hazardous levels.

The Air Quality Map for the Bay Area shows a scatter of red, signifying unhealthy levels. (SOURCE: purpleair.com)

For the past 28 days, the Bay Area has been under a Spare the Air Alert, indicating unhealthy levels of air in the atmosphere. Many students at Summit Shasta have been feeling the immediate effects. 

“For someone who has asthma and doesn’t want to breathe in smoke, it sucks that I have to also worry about smoke including Covid, and now there’s more reasons not to go outside… it’s a little worrying, to be honest, when we actually need to leave the house and it’s all smokey and more dangerous,” Anthony Munar, Shasta Junior, said. 

Huy Duong, Shasta Junior, agreed. ”As a fellow asthmatic I can personally say that the fire has been affecting [me]”

People around the nation, including scientists and weather analysts, turned to social media outlets to find and give information about the wildfires. Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA, posted on Twitter that smoke plumes and  pyrocumulunimbus clouds have been generated from the wildfires, which blocked the sun completely on some parts of the Bay Area.

National Weather Service forecaster Robert Gass even reported “falling ash” at Buchanan Field Airport in Concord. Gass reported that it was a significant amount of ash that looks like “moderate to heavy snow”. 

Crews fight massive wildfires in Northern California. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)

For Emeline Wagner, Shasta Senior, the wildfires have personally impacted her family. “My aunt and uncle lost their house because of the fire… everyone is feeling crappy and sick,” Wagner said. She feels her motivation going down. However, Wagner said, school keeps my mind off the fires. There is a reason for me to stay home.” 

Many students don’t feel optimistic about the future of wildfires in California. “I think it’s partially the result of climate change, and it’s only going to get worse,” Akhil Gunasekaran, Shasta junior, said. 

Wildfire season in California lasts an average of 76 days longer than in the 1980’s. In a recent trip to Sacramento, President Trump denied that climate change has a role in increasing fires, despite scientific evidence

“It’s very sad that this has become a yearly thing in California,” Taylor said.

Albert Chang-Yoo contributed reporting to this article. 

Featured Image (at the top of the page): The Summit Shasta campus is bathed in orange in the middle of the day. (PHOTO CREDIT: Caroline Hum)

 

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