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Wildfires Ravage Western United States

Posted on in Domestic Public Policy · American Government · Interest Groups & Social Movements · Public Opinion

Massive, fast-spreading  wildfires are devastating California, Oregon, and other western states. Various lives have already been lost and property damages will total in the billions. These are only the latest events in an ever-expanding fire season. Officials keep warning the public of more frequent and severe dangers in the future.  

Instructors, click the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt and a debate question as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for “Wildfires Ravage Western United States”


“Why Does California Have So Many Wildfires?”

“The West is on Fire. It took Trump 3 weeks to mention it.”

“Western wildfires break records as devastating toll on lives and homes begins to emerge”

“At Least 35 Dead as Wildfires Rampage Along the West Coast”

“The Thing I Dread The Most Is Not Knowing’: Western Wildfires Rage Amid Race To Flee”

“Democrats Say Climate Change Caused Wildfire Explosion in the West. Did It?”

“The orange skies and smoky air from Western wildfires, explained”

“’Unprecedented’: What’s behind the California, Oregon, and Washington wildfires”


  • Writing: Describe the history of wildfires in the western United States. What entities are responsible for mitigating wildfires? How has the president’s relationship with western governors hindered a bipartisan solution on climate change and fire mitigation?
  • Debate: Who should assume the most responsibility on climate change policy and fire mitigation?
  • Poll: Has California’s status as a blue state hurt its ability to achieve federal support during the current wildfire crisis?
  • Short Answer: What additional challenges has COVID-19 presented to the government’s response to the wildfires?

Current events quiz:

1) The current wildfires in the western United States are most likely a cause of

a. drought
b. faulty power lines
c. an accidental fire at a music concert
d. lightning strikes from recent storms

2) Why has a bipartisan, federal/state solution to worsening wildfires remained elusive in today’s political climate?

a. public opinion does not support a major solution
b. local governments have largely solved the problem on their own
c. political differences between national and state leaders
d. meteorologists have predicted rainy weather conditions  

3) All the following are true EXCEPT.

a. 2020 is the worst year for wildfires in the history of California
b. Four of the top five largest California wildfires happened in 2020
c. The only California wildfire to burn more than 500,000 acres is the August Complex
d. The top five largest California wildfires have all occurred since 2017

4) Wildfires only became a problem in the last ten years. (T/F)

5) Officials warn that wildfires will occur more frequently and be more severe if significant climate change policies are not adopted. (T/F)

6) The Thomas wildfire is the largest in the history of the state of California.(T/F)


1) A

2) C

3) B

4) False

5) True

6) False


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Featured Image Credit: Missvain / CAL FIRE Mendocino 

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