FARMERS IN California were going to spend Christmas planning their avocado harvests early in the new year. Now they will be worrying over how they are going to keep their farms going, as wildfires so massive that they can be seen from space sweep through key agricultural areas.
The fires have hit the avocado growing areas particularly hard – destroying much of the crop. Local sources estimate hundreds of acres, at least, are gone. Fruit which has not been burnt has fallen off the trees, which means that it cannot legally be sold under US food regulations.
The destruction is bad news for US consumers – 90% of US avocado production comes from California.
It’s also had news for the fragile US economy. Last year’s Californain grown avocados were valued at around £300 million to the fruit’s farmers. Fears are that much of that income will be lost. President Trump has promised federal aid to those who have lost out from the fires.
The human cost of the fires has been dramatic too. Local fire services estimate that nearly 6,000 firefighters have been tackling the blazes – three of whom have been hurt. Nearly 200,000 residents have been evacuated from the area as fires threaten their homes. One resident has lost her life – a 70 year old woman who was found in a car, possibly in a failed attempt to escape the fire.
States of emergency are being declared in various parts of California as weather conditions are favourable to the spread of fire.