The Carr fire raging in Shasta County, California has already claimed the lives of six people, with another seven people reported missing. It’s responsible for the destruction of 966 structures, making it the ninth most destructive wildfire in the state’s history according to Cal Fire statistics. While firefighters have gained some ground in Shasta county, according to a Reuters report, there are still more than 60 wildfires that are considered uncontained, mostly concentrated on the western side of the country.
The fires are both extremely dangerous, and hard to predict. It’s incredibly important that people who are closest to them are informed in enough time to evacuate, and to that end, various counties in California have access to Wireless Emergency Alert System (think, the screeching message of an Amber Alert) to communicate fire danger to their residents. It hasn’t always been fool-proof: Last year, some residents of Sonoma County didn’t receive any notification of a fire that killed 17 people, due to a logistical decision to prevent too many people from being notified at once (they were trying to limit congestion along evacuation routes).
Local and state-level agencies can also use reverse-911 systems to notify land-lines, and there are several subscription services that residents can sign up for to receive up-to-the-minute information about nearby fires, as well as an app that launched last year. The app, which was developed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire, offers users notifications of fire hazards based on their location, and sends updates from the agency on evacuations and other concerns.
Staying up to the minute on risk is less essential for people not in immediate danger, but if you want to keep up on what’s going on, there’s an array of online resources that can provide a quick look at the fires.
Local fire departments tend to be the most reliable resource. The Shasta County Fire Department has been posting regular updates on the progress the firefighters have been making, as well as evacuation plans for residents of the area:
The most up to date information that you’ll find on wildfires happening across all of California is from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It posts regularly on both Twitter and its website about what areas are safe to be in, and firefighting efforts:
The Fire, Weather & Avalanche Center is a non-profit organization that compiles information about natural disasters happening in the western half of the U.S. It provides services to local media and emergency services organizations to predict how weather patterns and other factors could affect how much a wildfire could grow and how safe an area is. Here is a link to a useful interactive map from the group.
Of course, California isn’t the only part of the country where wildfires are causing destruction. There are approximately 60 wildfires across the country that are not currently contained, from Florida to Alaska. You can find more information about the wildfires that are currently happening in your state: