UC Law Journal of Race and Economic Justice


Maria Salinas


Wildfires are a normal part of California’s drought-prone landscape, but in recent years, blazes have become more deadly and destructive than ever before due to climate change, low precipitation, and forest mismanagement. To date, the wildfires in 2020 remain some of the worst in the state’s history in terms of acreage lost, loss of life, and structures destroyed. Experts suggest that “without greater investment in prevention and systematic changes to combat the effects of climate change. . . California almost certainly has more record-setting fire seasons in store.”

This is a very grim reality for all Californians, but particularly for those whose entire livelihood rests on outdoor labor, such as farmworkers. During the peak of the wildfires in 2020, air districts like the Bay Area Air Quality Management District urged people to stay indoors to reduce the risk of inhaling toxic particulate matter, but farmworkers did not have this option.

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