Updated: Nov 12, 2020
2020 has been a catastrophic year from the start. One of the most damaging events has proven to be the wildfires that began in California and have had long-lasting effects throughout the country.
Beginning in early September in El Dorado California, the fires occurred because of a gender reveal party that went terribly wrong. Partygoers at the party set off a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” that ignited the four-foot grass at El Dorado Ranch Park and resulted in the fires currently consuming thousands of acres of land throughout the West Coast.
While the damage on the West Coast has been proven to be devastating, resulting in 26 deaths, and the destruction of over 6,000 buildings so far, the East Coast has begun to see some side-effects from the fires.
The smog has since dispersed all the way from California to Rhode Island and throughout much of the East Coast. On Wednesday, September 16th the sunset seemed particularly smokey and at first glance most wouldn’t think anything of it. However, after taking a closer look it was abundantly clear something was not right.
The smoke traveled all the way from California and reached RI, which can be detrimental to the air quality and have long-lasting impacts. Because of the smog in the sky, it is vital that everyone be conscientious of objects that may either cause a spark or already have a flame. Additionally, Darren Austin, a meteorologist with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management assured Rhode Islanders that the smoke is not an immediate threat to the state’s air quality, it can carry chemicals and soot which can be problematic if inhaled.
Furthermore, because the air quality can worsen, Austin stated that it is important for everyone to be as informed as they possibly can. The combination of poor air quality and the COVID-19 pandemic has caused risks that might have been overlooked before. Fires and smoke over a long period of time can be very deadly to the human body and can cause risks with one’s immune system which is the body’s biggest defense mechanism against the novel coronavirus. The biggest thing everyone can do is to just stay as safe as possible, and be aware of the issues being faced.