Over the last three years, California has experienced five of the deadliest wildfires and seven of the most destructive wildfires in state history, with more than 3.7 million acres burned, some 34,000 structures destroyed, and more than 145 lives tragically lost. This year, dry and warm conditions can lead to an increased potential of fire activity.
Since last year, California has been amplifying resources to protect public safety, including the completion of 35 high priority fuel reduction projects. The 35 projects resulted in protecting 90,000 acres by directly treating 12,000 acres. Additionally, in 2020 CAL FIRE plans to directly treat 50,000 acres. Additionally, CAL FIRE is partnering with the California National Guard and other agencies to provide early detection to wildfires throughout California to minimize reaction times and monitor fire affected areas to augment responses if necessary. Also, CAL FIRE will be amplifying resources with the use of technology through the Innovation Procurement Sprint that will help predict potential fire behavior and impact. Finally, CAL FIRE has focused on the procurement of new Blackhawk helicopters that can carry and deliver more water to impacted areas.
“As we continue to deal with challenging times, we want to make sure Californians know we are prepared for this year’s fire season, and also, the importance of them knowing what they can do to prepare themselves,” said CAL FIRE Chief Thom Porter.
More importantly, CAL FIRE is also ensuring residents know about the importance of educating and preparing themselves and their communities. For instance, safeguarding their homes through the creation of defensible space by clearing vegetation 100-feet or more away, as well as using fire resistant landscaping to help stop the spread of wildfire, is strongly advised. This is especially important since approximately 25 percent of the state’s population, or 11 million Californians, live in a high-risk fire zone. Thousands of communities, from small mountain towns to suburbs to large urbanized cities, depend on smart planning and prevention tools such as protective fuel breaks, defensible space around homes and home hardening for their safety and survival. These tools work together to build more fire-resilient communities.
“Preparedness is key to California residents reducing their exposure and risks to destructive wildfires, especially during this pandemic period,” said Anthony Scardina, Deputy Regional Forester for Region 5. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with our wildland fire service partners at the state and local levels to protect our fellow Californians in 2020 and beyond.”
Additionally, CAL FIRE is encouraging Californians to access the revamped “Ready for Wildfire” web-based app, which is a helpful resource to use in year-round preparation. The “Ready for Wildfire” web-based app now takes a personalized approach that includes local alerts, checklists for preparedness, including evacuation plans, and other kits. To download the free Ready for Wildfire web-based app, visit https://plan.readyforwildfire.org/.
So far this year, CAL FIRE has responded to more than 900 wildfires that have burned more than 1,100 acres.
Read Governor Gavin Newsom’s Proclamation of the 2020 Wildfire Prevention Week.