Dozens of wildfires had left more than 23,000 Californians forced out of their homes by Tuesday — with many planning to flee to the likes of New York to escape what one resident described a terrifying “new normal.”
Nearly 19,000 firefighters are still battling 27 major blazes that continue burning across the Golden State, killing at least 26 and charring 5,600 square miles, Gov. Gavin Newsom said — an area larger than the state of Connecticut.
They include the Bobcat fire, one of the largest blazes in the history of Los Angeles County, which on Tuesday was still threatening more than 1,000 homes — and was still only 17 percent contained, fire officials said.
An estimated 6,400 buildings have been destroyed across the state, but “by no stretch of the imagination do we think this tells the entire story,” Newsom said of ongoing damage assessments as more than 23,000 remained evacuated.
While the hardest hit, California was one of at least a dozen West Coast states devastated in the historic wildfire season — with others still raging in Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Wyoming.
Lifetime California-resident Arthur Gies, 39, told CNN that he has finally had enough — and is looking to move to Manhattan or Brooklyn.
“It’s not necessarily this year of wildfires so much as the dam breaking on the realization that this is not just the new normal but just a prelude to what’s coming,” the Oakland gaming consultant told the network. “And just being sort of tired of this being normal.”
Gies said he was already terrified about the idea that “huge earthquakes” are “a thing we’re waiting for” in the state.
“That’s something that hangs over California all the time,” he said, saying that he now has to worry about “the prospect of just really life-altering wildfires are becoming not just possible but expected.”
“Climate disaster is something that will affect almost everywhere but the ways in which it’s affecting places like the Eastern seaboard that are not in the direct path of hurricane season feels more manageable to me than the fires and earthquakes here.”
Even wildfire expert LeRoy Westerling of the University of California Merced said he is ready to move — even to Canada. “We can’t get decent fire insurance anymore,” he told CNN of his two homes in Mariposa. “So if your house does burn down, you don’t have full coverage.”
University of Southern California professor Bistra Dilkina said that the “intensity of climate-driven disasters” is emerging as a growing trend for people choosing to relocate.
“I do believe that fires are going to start becoming one of the factors,” he told CNN.
With Post wires
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