Wildfires burning across California

On average, and under Paris Agreement pledges, a child born in 2020 faces 2 times the risk of wildfire than a person born in 1960.

California Wildfires: How to Help

Today’s children will experience more extreme climate events in their lifetimes than their parents and grandparents. Over the past few years alone, California has experienced a series of increasingly larger and deadlier wildfires. 

Today, as several wildfires continue to burn, Save the Children is assessing the needs of both our staff and the communities in which we work to support them with immediate relief. 

In addition to Save the Children's Wildfire Safety Tips to Keep Children Safe, here are some things to know about the 2022 California wildfires. 

Where are the wildfires in California located?

There are currently 60 active large wildfires burning across 14 states nationwide—engulfing about 1.6 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

More than 5.7 million acres have been burned so far this year, which is more than 85% higher than at the same time in 2021, and more than at this point in any year since 2015.

The largest active California wildfire is the Mckinney fire, which began on July 29, 2022. It has burned nearly 56,000 acres as of August 2, 2022.

What is causing the California wildfires?

Record hot and dry temperatures followed by little to no rain can contribute to dry vegetation. This can lead to wildfires in September and October.

When is California wildfire season?

Experts state that September and October are the most vulnerable months for California wildfires. According to the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection, of the 20 most destructive wildfires in California history, 12 of them took place in September and October.

Peak wildfire season runs from July thru October. However, wildfires are now taking place as early as January and as late as December.

What is the largest wildfire in California's history?

The 2020 August Complex Fire was the largest wildfire in California's history. More than 1 million acres were destroyed in the 2020 August Complex Fire. 

How and when did the California McKinney Wildfire start?

The McKinney Wildfire began on July 29, 2022 in the Klamath National Forest in Siskiyou County.

How large is the California McKinney wildfire?

The McKinney wildfire has thus far burned 55,000 acres—an area more than one and a half times the size of San Francisco.

How and when did the California Oak wildfire start?

Most of the wildfires in California are caused by people. The Oak Fire began Friday, July 22 in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

How large is the California Oak wildfire?

As of Friday, July 29, the Oak Fire has consumed nearly 20,000 acres of land. 

How are children affected by wildfires

Wildfires are scary and disruptive for kids – they can take children away from their homes, their schools and their friends.

During the Australian bushfires, Save the Children warned of the importance of addressing the long-term mental health needs of children impacted by wildfires. “(Fires) are incredibly frightening events and the psychological toll can last a very long time if not properly addressed,” said Paul Ronalds, head of Save the Children in Australia. 

“For children, there is so much uncertainty around what’s happening. Their entire lives have been uprooted, and often they don’t know whether their home is still standing or what happened to their friends, relatives, and pets."

As the global leader in child-focused humanitarian response, Save the Children is committed to reducing the impact of disasters on children through effective preparedness, response and recovery. Our experts have provided 10 Wildfire Safety Tips to Keep Children Safe to show parents what to do if there is a wildfire. 

Are today's children facing an increased risk of wildfires?

On average, and under Paris Agreement pledges, a child born in 2020 faces 2 times the risk of wildfire than a person born in 1960.

What is leading to the increased risk of wildfires

IPCC assessments have determined that factors tied to anthropogenic climate change, including higher temperatures, lower precipitation and the impact of increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere on vegetation, are leading to higher risks of fire.

How can smoke from wildfires affect children?

Children’s immune systems are still developing, leaving their rapidly growing bodies more sensitive and at greater risk of longer-lasting health effects from wildfire smoke inhalation – such as allergies and infection.

How can children be protected against wildfire smoke?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance for protecting children from wildfire smoke

Experts have also warned that poor air quality could aggravate COVID-19 symptoms or make people cough more, making them more contagious if they are infected.

How can I help children and families who have been impacted by emergencies?

With your support, Save the Children is there before, during and after an emergency. Working together, we help communities become more resilient so that each time a crisis happens, they are stronger, more likely to survive, and recover more quickly. Your support today helps make this possible.

Donate to the Children's Emergency Fund today. 

Updated: August 3, 2022

Welcome!

We’ll be in touch! By signing up to receive emails from Save the Children you will receive a subscription to our monthly eNews, access to breaking emergency alerts and opportunities to get involved. To ensure delivery of Save the Children emails to your inbox, add support@savechildren.org to your contact list.

By providing my mobile phone number, I agree to receive recurring text messages from Save the Children (48188) and phone calls with opportunities to donate and ways to engage in our mission to support children around the world. Text STOP to opt-out, HELP for info. Message & data rates may apply. View our Privacy Policy at savethechildren.org/privacy.