Massive Fires Hit California in October

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. rage / reɪdʒ / (v) – to happen violently

    They couldn’t sleep well while the storm raged outside.

  2. contain / kənˈteɪn / (v) – to control something and prevent it from spreading further

    The government prohibits people from leaving the infected city to contain the epidemic.

  3. extinguish / ɪkˈstɪŋ gwɪʃ / (v) – to stop something from burning

    The firefighters extinguished the fire immediately.

  4. proximity / prɒkˈsɪm ɪ ti / (n) – the closeness of something in terms of location, times, etc.

    I can walk to work because of my house’s proximity to my office.

  5. trace / treɪs / (n) – evidence or mark that shows the presence of something

    There were traces of smoke in the sky when the fireworks display was over.


Read the text below.

Massive wildfires raged in California in October, which took more than two weeks to be contained.

Thousands of firefighters worked together to control the wildfires that started around the second week of October. Authorities said that the residents were not able to immediately notice the fires because they happened at night. Due to the dry weather conditions of the summer season, the fires escalated quickly. Strong winds also quickly spread the fires and made them harder to extinguish.

The wildfires affected different counties, including Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino  /ˌmɛn dəˈsi noʊ /. According to authorities, the proximity of the residential areas to the woods worsened the fires’ effects.

The massive wildfires were captured by NASA’s satellites called Terra and Aqua. The satellites have advanced sensors that enable them to detect the temperature changes on Earth. At the time of the fires, the satellites detected areas in California that were hotter compared to its surrounding areas. The image taken by the satellites showed traces of smoke around the hot areas, leading NASA to confirm that these were indeed the wildfires.

Wildfires may be caused by human activities like leaving campfires, throwing cigarettes, and intentionally burning pieces of land. In addition to these, wildfires may also result from natural events such as lightning and volcanic eruption. The cause of the California wildfires has not yet been identified, and authorities are still searching for clues among the tragedy’s remains.

Meanwhile, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control warned the public that the wildfires’ ashes could be harmful. They said that toxic wastes, which include burnt chemicals, gadgets, and building materials like asbestos, may pose health risks to people who would clean up the area.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• How do you think victims of the wildfires can recover from the incident? Discuss.
• In what ways can a similar incident be prevented in the future?

Discussion B

• What are the common environmental problems that happen during the summer season?
• What do you think people can do to minimize the impact of these problems?