Cal Fire is preparing to combat fires and reduce fire risk in preparation for the dry year.
OROVILLE, Calif. – Today Governor Gavin Newsom approved over $80 million for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Cal Fire, to not only battle wildfires when they happen but to keep them from starting in the first place.
“Weather has not been our friend in this past year,” said Captain John Gaddie from Cal Fire Butte County. It may continue to not be our friend moving forward. With the lack of precipitation, the fuels dry out,” said Gaddie. “We’re having a little bit more fire activity up and down the state.”
The combination of increases in temperature and high winds means fire season may be getting longer and longer.
“I think the past has shown us that it’s here,” said Gaddie about the idea of a year-round fire season. “It’s probably going to be a trend going forward.”
Right now, Cal Fire is looking to ramp up their seasonal firefighters – meaning more hands-on-deck by mid to late May. Bobbie Karthauser and Guy Smith have been evacuated from their home in Oroville twice for fires. It is currently only March, yet they are out shopping for supplies to be prepared.
“Once it starts and with the winds like today, you just hope,” Smith said.
Cal Fire said it’s a good idea to have a bag packed with personal belongings and to also do some yard work to help prevent fires. “Go out there and start taking those weeds down and clearing the brush from around your house if you live in those areas,” Gaddie said. “Now is the perfect time to start doing that.” This constant vigilance may save lives.
“We’re just doing what we can do, and hope everyone else is too,” Karthauser said.
Cal Fire said they are working with public safety partners to continue to improve communication in case of a fire.
“This is just another emergency we have to deal with,” Gaddie said. “We have very robust resources out there to deal with fires.”
The state is looking for other ways to help the effort of battling and preventing wildfires. California members of Congress want wildland firefighter jobs to be year-round. The two California senators and 21 members of Congress signed a letter to the Agriculture and Interior departments, asking for wildland firefighter jobs to be year-round. In the letter, they explain that the federal government owns more than half of all forest land in California. It also lists how wildfires burned more than 4 million acres across the state in 2020. Congressman Jared Huffman and Congressman John Garamendi from districts two and three are among the signatures in support. Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s office said LaMalfa was not asked to review or sign the letter before it was sent, but he is open to the concept of a year-round workforce.
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