California wildfires leave behind toxic ash

A woman finds her wedding ring in the debris of her burned home. Photo: Jeff Chiu / AP

As the last flames from the deadly California wildfires are extinguished, the state faces another hurdle in the form of ash — possibly toxic — left behind, WIRED's Adam Rogers reports.

Why it matters: The environmental impacts of large volumes of ash range from contaminated soil to algal blooms. "We're anywhere from five years to 100 years in terms of the longevity of effects," Oregon State University researcher Kevin Bladon told WIRED. "That really depends on the severity of the fire and our ability to get some vegetation re-established on site."