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Case Study: North American World Fires in 2020

Many parts of Canada and the United States experience risks of fires between August and December every year. In the 2020 season, there was record-breaking for California, and the United States as 8.8 million acres were burnt by 52,311 wildfires, as per the NIFC report. According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, large fires had a significant impact on the human population as they burnt more than 50 000 acres of land across California, Colorado, Oregon, and other three states (Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah) in the United States (Congressional Research Service, 2021). California’s impact was very adverse, as 9,279 wildfires burnt 4.2 million acres of land by 3 December 2020 (Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2020). There were more than 32 fatalities records and burned down 10,500 structures. These statistics showed the highest number of acres burnt in a single year, equivalent to 3 years combined (Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2020). California experienced the six most extensive wildfires in 2020, which were: August Complex, Lightning Complex, LNU Complex, the Creek, and the North Complex fires.

Nearly 701,000 acres of land in Colorado were burned in 2020, approximately 1,000 miles. Colorado was affected by the three largest fires in their State, which was history (Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2020). First was the Cameron Peak Fire, which started on 13 August in the Roosevelt and Arapaho National Forests and was the largest in Colorado’s history. It quadrupled in size on a labor day and aggressively made another run on 14 October, burning more than 25,000 acres of land in one day. It was finally contained on 2 December after burning 210,900 acres (Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2020). The second was the East Troublesome Fire which exploded overnight on 22nd and 23rd October burning 6,000 acres of land per hour. It ultimately scorched 195780 acres, and it was because of tress damaged by pests and brisk winds which made it spread faster. An estimated 380 households and an elderly couple lost their homes to the fire together with an elderly couple who perished after refusing to vacate out of their long-lived home (Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2020). Surprisingly, the fire traversed the continental divide, which is the highest point in the USA, burnt one side of the Rocky Mountains of the continental USA, and continued on the other opposite side. The third was the Pine Gulch Fire, the largest wildfire before it was overtaken by the other two. The fire burnt 150,000 acres before containment.

In Oregon, approximately 1.1 million acres of land were burnt by wildfire, which was double for an average of 600,000 acres within ten years. The fire caused ten fatalities, destroyed more than 2,000 homes, and killed two firefighters (Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2020). Oregon experienced the Almeda fire, the Riverside fire, the Archie Creek fire, the Lionshead Fire, the Beachie Creek Fire, and the holiday Farm Fire. Almeda Fire started in Ashland and spread quickly towards the north of Phoenix, Talent, and Medford towns. It was small in scope, but it was contained after burning 3,500 acres on 15 September (Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2020). The fire went straight up to Pacific Highway, cutting across several communities. More than 81,000 people were displaced as the fire destroyed 2,360 homes, 60 mobile homes and trailers were damaged and wiped out many businesses along the phoenix town main street, and homes belonging to 5,000 people were destroyed in the same town. In Talent, only three deaths were registered three deaths due to early notifications and evacuation. FEMA made a major declaration on this disaster for these straight-line winds and fires.

Idaho State experienced The Woodhead Fire that started on 7th September Cambridge in Washington County and burned 98,600 acres with extremely large dry brush and grass. Another state was Wyoming State which witnessed The Mullen Fire, which burned 178,900 acres in medicine Bow National Forest north of the Colorado border (Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2020). At first, the first fire posed an inevitable threat to communities of Rambler, Fox Park, Albany, and Keystone, but later it was able to be contained. The last was Utah State which experienced The East Fork Fire, like a lightning fire (Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2020). It started on 21 August and burned 90,040 acres. Utah has not experienced large fires for the last 55 years.

Local, State, and Federal governments and agencies responded positively. For instance, the California Wildfires Recovery Fund gave Humboldt Area Foundation $260,000 to subgrant to the marginalized populations in four-county areas significantly affected by the fires (Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2020). A portion of the funds was to offer support to the local indigenous communities most affected by the fires. Some of these funds came from COVID-19 Response Fund to help recover from these effects of disasters by different communities. California Wildfires Recovery Fund still gave $155,000 to the northern California India Development Council to help Native American tribes develop emergency plans for future emergencies and disasters (Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2020). This money will help California tribes to create templates for emergency plans, consulting services, and providing technical assistance in tailoring projects to satisfy their needs. Another Agency that responded to these hard moments was the Disaster Recovery Fund which gave $220,000 to the Latino Community Fund of Washington State to support Latinx communities affected by these 2020 fires. They were to be reached at community centers, churches, parks, schools, and other community centers.

FEMA made three major fire and disaster management declarations with provisions of funds. DR-4558 was issued on 22 August 2020 for 20 California areas, mostly for public and individual assistance. On 7 December, 3,000 applications for assistance were approved, and individuals were to receive $20 million (Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2020). Another declaration, DR-4569, was issued to 14 California regions on 15 October 2020 after another wildfire burned some areas in the State. Ten areas had both general and individual designations, while four areas got public designations only. Individuals’ applications were approved for a total of $3.6.

These responses show that different agencies and organizations acted promptly to help mitigate this disaster that highly affects the northern side of America. Every organization acted generously to try and embrace togetherness, more so on hard times when each one needed the help of the other. Like, California Wildfire Recovery Fund acted urgently and in need to help Californians and other people outside California like the native Indians and Latin communities. In my opinion, the response groups acted diligently and with love for the people of Northern America. I could not believe the response some of the groups were giving out, like the FEMA; it did a wonderful job of giving a hand when it was necessary. If these response groups can come together to create mechanisms that can be used to act urgently and emergently to stop disasters, it can be an effective approach to solve this.

The recovery needs vary for each wildfire. Therefore, great attention needs to be considered for long-term support on income recovery, rehousing additional preparedness, and agricultural needs to help vulnerable populations. Counseling services can help heal up the issue of mental health caused by trauma, pandemic, and the season fires. Awarding grants and loans for rebuilding businesses and homes that the disaster has damaged might be a better way to console those highly affected and make them feel real back to normal (Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2022). The number of funds provided by the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is not enough to finish what is needed, and workers hired do not provide adequate and safe housing, food, and other supportive materials. There is a need to make hiring practices fair as a component of grants ((Center for Disaster Philanthropy, 2022). Cash donations are effective as they allow ground agencies to direct monies into areas of an urgent need to help donation management perform effectively to fulfill the disaster recovery wants.


2020 North American Wildfire Season – Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Center for Disaster Philanthropy. (2022). Retrieved 22 March 2022,

2022 North American Wildfires – Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Center for Disaster Philanthropy. (2022). Retrieved 22 March 2022,

2021 North American Wildfire Season – Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Center for Disaster Philanthropy. (2022).

Congressional Research Service. Wildfire Statistics. (2021)


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