Post Fire: What you need to know about the wildfire threatening California

The fire originating in Gorman, California is spreading quickly due to multiple factors

Post Fire
Firefighters work to stop the fire on June 16 in Gorman, California.Eric Thayer (AP)
Alonso Martínez

Although wildfires have been a recurring problem in California, often exacerbated by the state’s climate and geography, recent years have seen devastation caused by increasingly large and difficult to control fires. The state experiences a well-defined fire season, typically from late summer through early fall, although fires can occur throughout the year. Factors that have contributed to the increased frequency and intensity of wildfires are prolonged droughts, high temperatures, dry vegetation, and high winds. In Los Angeles County, a fire called the Post Fire is evidence of these effects and of what is coming in the future as climate change makes these fires more common.

The Post Fire is an early indicator of the potential intensity and challenges firefighters will face in the coming months. Here are the details of this fire that is active and could cause evacuations in several areas of California.

What is the Post Fire?

A massive wildfire currently sweeping through parts of Los Angeles County that started on June 15, 2024, around 1:52 p.m. has been named the Post Fire. The fire reportedly originated near Gorman Road in Gorman, California and spread rapidly due to high winds and dry weather conditions in the area. At this time, the Los Angeles County Fire Department is bringing the fire under control with the assistance of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s second incident management team.

Los Angeles County, California, U.S., June 15, 2024
The fire as seen by a monitoring camera from Los Angeles County on June 15.ALERTCalifornia/UC San Diego (Reuters)

What caused it?

The exact cause of the Post Fire is unknown at this time. However, the speed with which it has spread has been influenced by weather conditions in the region. The combination of high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds are the perfect mix to cause and exacerbate a wildfire. These factors, coupled with the abundance of dry grass and brush left over from a rainy winter, have caused the fire to spread at a faster rate. The steep terrain further complicates firefighting efforts by making it difficult for firefighters to establish and maintain containment lines.

What areas have been affected?

The Post Fire has already caused damage in several areas, beginning in Gorman, where it started. The fire has advanced southeast through Hungry Valley State Park and Pyramid Lake. As a precautionary measure, California State Park Services has evacuated more than 1,200 people from Hungry Valley, while the lake has been closed because of the warnings. At the moment, the fire threatens the 19,000 residents of Castaic, a town near where the fire is located. Residents have been alerted to evacuate.

Moreover, air quality is expected to worsen due to the fire throughout Los Angeles Country and surrounding areas. According to authorities, the polluted air could reach the Las Vegas area in Nevada, a distance of 225 miles (362.1 kilometers). This has also caused air quality alerts to be issued in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valley regions.

Protective measures

While the Post Fire remains active, residents and authorities are taking several steps to protect lives and property. Here are some of the key measures that residents in or near the affected areas should consider:

Staying informed

It is recommended to regularly check for updates from reliable sources such as the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Ventura County Emergency Services and CAL FIRE. Websites such as www.lacounty.gov/emergency and www.vcemergency.com provide the latest information on fire status and evacuation orders.

Prepare to evacuate

Those living in a fire-prone area or under an evacuation notice should prepare a “go bag” with essential items such as clothing, medications, important documents and other necessities. It is recommended to check that your vehicle is fueled and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Limit exposure to smoke

Smoke from the Post Fire has significantly affected air quality. The South Coast Air Quality Management District recommends staying indoors with windows and doors closed, in addition to the use of air conditioners or air purifiers to keep indoor air clean, and avoiding outdoor activities. If you must go outdoors, wearing an N95 respirator can provide some protection against inhaling harmful particles.

It is also recommended to avoid smoking in green areas and to avoid lighting fires that can spread quickly.

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