After a wildfire is extinguished, there is a natural concern for the environment and what kinds of long-term damage it will sustain. But a whole new set of problems begin for those unfortunate Californians who lost their residence in the blaze.
In a state already plagued by high housing costs, the need for affordable housing due to wildfires creates an aftermath of crisis. Whether these displaced residents are homeowners, renters or living in subsidized housing, their need is the same: finding a new place to live.
In the last five years, Northern California wildfires destroyed whole towns such as Greenville, Berry Creek and Grizzly Flats, and severely wounded Lake Shastina, Paradise and Magalia. Last month, the Mosquito Fire came within feet of torching the town of Foresthill in Placer County and taking it off the California map as well.
By the time it came under control, the Mosquito Fire had burned fewer than 100 homes. But by contrast, last year’s Dixie and Caldor Fires, which traversed the width of the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, together destroyed about 2,000 homes. The 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, in Butte County, took out 11,000 homes, and 2017’s Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa destroyed 5,200 homes.
In the aftermath of any wildfire, residents must scramble to find a new living situation, often seeking housing nearby. But for nearby cities, the onrush of displaced people puts significant pressure on existing infrastructure.