SACRAMENTO, CA October 23, 2017. California wildfires in September/October 2017, will be recorded as the most devastating ever to hit the state. “The Board and staff of the California Fire Safe Council send heartfelt prayers and condolences to all of those who have suffered losses of family, friends, homes, businesses and pets throughout the fire areas,” said Jerry Davies, Chair of the CFSC.
CFSC has been in touch with many local Fire Safe Councils throughout the fire ravaged areas in counties ranging from Riverside and Orange in the south, to Napa, Sonoma, Nevada, Mendocino, Butte, and Yuba in the north, including the city of Santa Rosa.
“One major message from all fire prevention seminars and events conducted by CFSC, local Fire safe Councils and the Napa Communities Firewise Foundation, has been the Ready, Set, Go program. Homeowners heeded the call to evacuate when it was given and that has saved many lives,” said Stephen Gort, Executive Director of CFSC and a Napa resident who was evacuated from his home in Circle Oaks.
According to Evan Kilkus, a member of the Lake Berryessa Fire Safe Council, Atlas Peak, Soda Canyon, and Mt Veeder suffered great losses due to embers carried by heavy winds and fire storms. The City of Santa Rosa was devastated. Homes in Circle Oaks in Napa County received very little damage due to vigorous fire prevention programs conducted by Circle Oaks residents.
More than 8,000 homes, businesses and buildings have been destroyed, and 42 individuals have lost their lives from these fires. Tragically, the count could rise as firefighters and first responders continue their work.
“The weather patterns have been cooperating somewhat now and firefighters are now gaining the upper hand on the remaining fires,” explained David Shew, Staff Chief with CAL FIRE and board member of CFSC.
In Anaheim Hills, families are vowing to rebuild their homes damaged or destroyed by the wildfires. As the northern fires are finally contained, families will return to their damaged or destroyed homes to begin the process of filing insurance claims, and making plans to rebuild. Discussions at town hall meetings being held in Anaheim Hills and other cities around the state centers around how to better prepare for the next fires.
An important reminder from CFSC and local Fire Safe Councils is for homeowners to work with their local Fire Safe Councils, CAL FIRE, and their local fire departments to practice defensible space rules, search for ways to protect their homes from embers getting in, plant fire retardant vegetation and use fire retardant building materials in homes prone to wildfires.
There are state and federal voices calling for changes in federal law to help the USFS, Department of the Interior, and state agencies cope with major fires by not having to use their budgets for suppressing these wildfires. It is predicted that 67% of the USFS budget will be spent on wildfires by the year 2025. Congressional leaders say these dollars could be used for local fire prevention programs if federal fire suppression was paid for with Congressional appropriations similar to the national flood program provided by FEMA.
Congressional appropriations to suppress fires would allow greater funding to CFSC by federal agencies to plan and implement stronger fire prevention programs in California working with the Fire Safe Councils, home and business owners, USFS, BLM, Interior Department, CAL FIRE, local fire departments and state and local government agencies.
For further information on the California Fire Safe Council and a list of all local Fire Safe Councils in California, please visit www.cafiresafecouncil.org