Since April 2016, the state of California has been suffering through one of its worst fire seasons, and thousands of families have felt the effects. California wildfires are nothing new, but they’re becoming more severe and more frequent. No one can gauge when a fire will strike, but when one does, it can be life-changing.

Summit Valley resident Ryan Nuckols watches the Pilot Fire burn through his neighborhood in San Bernadino County, CA on August 8, 2016. Because of the Pilot Fire, multiple school districts canceled classes, stretches of roads to close down, and over 1,000 firefighters deployed to fight the fire. The Pilot Fire was one of two brush fires that burned through California that week, which was not unusual.

200 homes were lost and two deaths were confirmed as one of the largest brush fire in California raged through Kern County in late June 2016. With over 70 square miles burned, 2,000 firefighters deployed to try and contain the massive fire. “When you have heavy wind going at 40 to 50 mph, there’s not any fire department anywhere in the world that would be able to catch a fire going that fast," Kern County Fire Department spokesman Anthony Romero said in an LA Times article.

When Pico Union resident Diana (chose not to give last name) came back to her house on the evening of August 10, 2016, there was nothing left. Her home, along with two of her neighboring homes burned in a fire that displaced at least 40 residents in the area. Diana had two dogs that were in the house during the fire, one of which did not make it.

Camp 8 brush fire squad members (from left) Jason Polhill, Eric Moreno, and Evan Davis take a break as a valley catches fire in Duarte, California on June 20, 2016. As temperatures reached triple digits, more than 1,000 firefighters deployed to fight two fires that raged just miles apart from each other in Duarte and Azusa, California. Together, the fires burned around 5,000 acres and forced the evacuation of at least 770 homes according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

"It's like you’re at the last mile of a marathon, and then they tell you that you have another mile to go, and another, and another," said Steven Christman, camp 8 brush fire squad member. Because of the increasingly high number of fires this summer and the shortage of fire fighters across California, Christman and his brush fire squad have had to work for weeks on end without a day off. "You just keep going," said Christman. "You don't really have a choice."

Firefighter Jesse Rivera conducts a firing operation to help stop the Erskine Fire from spreading in Kern County. During a fire operation, firefighters burn an area of land to stop a larger fire from spreading past the burnt area.

Fire retardant completely covered a house in Sagecrest Circle in Newell, California, as a brush fire burned directly beside their house in the Santa Clarita Valley on July 9, 2016. The fire forced about 2,000 residents to evacuate the area.

Squirrel Valley resident Christina Chaparro does her daughter Alexis' hair as her brother Angel relaxes on the floor of Kernville Elementary School. The elementary school was transformed into an evacuation center for families that were forced to evacuate there homes during the Erskine Fire. "I did not think it was that bad until we got to the shelter," Christina said. "Thank God we are safe." Christina is one of dozens of Kern County residents waiting to be released so they can see if there homes survived the fire.

CAL FIRE crew members Bradley Hutchings, left, and Eric Calley observe the Erskine Fire as it descends down Kelsoe Valley in Kern County. The Kelsoe Valley is a small portion of the 8,000 acres that burned within the first 24 hours of the Erskine Fire erupting.

Although families were not allowed to go back to their homes a couple days after the Kern County Fire erupted, South Lake residents Sandy Lake, 63, and her son-in-law Chris Myers, 37, were able to sneak into their neighborhood. "I was just devastated," Lake said in response to seeing her mobile home burned to the ground. Over 100 homes were lost in their neighborhood alone during the Kern County Fire. As Lake and her son-in-law searched for family items amidst the rubble, they were only able to recover a couple pieces of jewelry.

Los Angeles County Firefighters hose down an area of the Santa Clarita Valley that had burned during a brush fire on July 9, 2016.

Using Format