On the morning of the 9th of September the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley in California woke up to an apocalyptic scene. An orange sky, and a thick haze of smoke and ashes from the wildfires that have been destroying millions of hectares hundreds of kilometres away across the West Coast of the United States. The huge smoke clouds have caused the most-protracted unsafe levels of air pollution in San Francisco Bay, i.e. over 25 consecutive days of hazardous air quality.

San Francisco Bay bridge, wildfires
San Francisco’s Bay Bridge, 9th September 2020 © Brittany Hosea-Small/Afp/Getty Images

The wildfires that have been plaguing California, Oregon and Washington state have destroyed at least 800,000 hectares of forests, the most damage caused in the last 30 years. Even more worrying is the fact that this is just a provisional number, as the wildfires continue raging.