This story was originally published by Reveal and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Fire is as common to Western states as the drought-dried shrubs that feed the flames. This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Oakland Hills Firestorm in the San Francisco Bay Area that destroyed about 3,000 homes and killed 25 people. At an estimated $1.5 billion in losses — $2.7 billion in today’s dollars — it remains the country’s most costly wildfire to date.
Wildfires, long considered a problem exclusive to the West, now threaten many other parts of the country as extreme weather becomes more commonplace and more people live in areas at risk for wildfire.
Jodi Aldridge never thought her Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, home was vulnerable. But on the evening of March 16, 2013, one of her coworkers at a Chili’s restaurant pointed to smoke in the distance, near where she lived.
Aldridge, 39, rushed from work to her condo complex, hoping to rescue Puck, her pug puppy.
“It was insane,” she recalled. “You could literally watch the fire jump from bush to bush and building to building.”
Aldridge said she “ran up the ... Read more