I’ll admit it, I was scared. I was going to report on wildfires. It was my first reporting trip where something dangerous could happen. But we had Eric Sagara, who had reported on dozens of wildfires and knew how to keep us safe.
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Eric, Ike Sriskandarajah and I were trying to find out why wildfires are getting bigger, more expensive to fight and closer to where people live. In late July, the three of us spent a week on the road in a cramped SUV, bound for places that had been touched by devastating fires to see firsthand how firefighters and their communities battle blazes. Our first stop was the Sand Fire in Southern California.
Our reporting was featured on a recent episode of Reveal that focused on how wildfire risks are reaching beyond the West and how a policy of suppression increased the potential for larger, more destructive fires. We dug deeper in our story about the increased threat of wildfire as more U.S. homes are built in areas that bump up against wildland. We included an app that shows wildfire vulnerability throughout the country, state by state, month to month.
Here, we bring you more images from our journey into wildfire zones, what we’re calling America’s Ring of Fire.
This story was edited by Jennifer LaFleur and copy edited by Nadia Wynter.
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Emmanuel Martinez is a data reporter for The Markup. For the past six years, he’s worked in the same position for the investigative news outlet and public radio show Reveal in the San Francisco Bay Area, using data, statistics, and programming to tell stories. His most recent work examined access to homeownership and mortgage discrimination, where he analyzed 31 million housing records to prove that people of color were being routinely denied mortgages in 61 major U.S. metro areas. Emmanuel has also worked on a tool to help match unidentified bodies with missing persons’ reports, reported on why wildfires in the West are growing larger and sparking closer to homes, and dug into water shortages in California’s Central Valley, which produces a quarter of the nation’s food.