For the second time in two weeks, residents had to evacuate their homes in the wake of yet another devastating wildfire. On August 10 in the California community of Lower Lake, residents were advised to evacuate from a second fire in the area that burned about 9 square miles. According to a Fox News report, “Authorities couldn't say how many homes were evacuated or how many people were told to be prepared to flee. The fire was burning about 100 miles north of San Francisco.”
A previous blaze in the area has burnt almost 109 square miles. For you football fans, 100 square miles is the equivalent of more than 58,000 football fields!
One interesting story that followed these fires was the use of inmate firefighters to help battle these blazes. According to the report, I Hung Out With the Prisoners Who Fight California Wildfires, "More than 30 percent of California's wildfire fighters are state prisoners—low-level felons who volunteered to spend their sentences doing the manual labor of forest fire prevention and response rather than remaining behind bars."
"The roughly 4,000 inmate firefighters receive a sentence reduction and $1 per hour while fighting fires, saving the state $80 million per year. After passing a physical exam and going through the same two-week training course that civilian firefighters do, they're sent to one of 44 "fire camps" across the state—barracks-style quarters that serve as a home base from which to fight fires.”
This seems to be an innovative solution to help with the personnel shortage,while at the same time cutting suppression costs and providing meaningful training to potentially help rehabilitate individuals incarcerated for low level felonies. For more information about current wildfires in California check out the CAL FIRE incident information page.