Calif. warns homeowners to prepare for fire season
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- California Gov. Jerry Brown issued a proclamation Monday, declaring this Wildfire Awareness Week. He called on homeowners to do more to protect their own property in an era of massive cutbacks.
From January to April, CalFire responded to more than 800 wildfires throughout California. During the same period last year, it was only 300. The alarming spike combined with the dry winter forced the state to urge Californians to do their part in getting ready for fire season by creating defensible space and having an emergency plan.
"We're prepared, but the individuals around the state need to be prepared," California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird said.
Homeowner preparation is especially important this year because of budget cuts totaling $80 million. The state hired 700 fewer seasonal firefighters this year, five bulldozers that help create fire breaks won't be in use and one airbase in Fresno was shut down.Three-man crews will also continue to be assigned to engines, instead of four people. And for the second year in a row, California couldn't afford to keep the converted DC-10 used for airdrops on an exclusive contract, so the states will have to fight over it on an as-needed basis.
"To have it available on-call costs us more per hour," CalFire senior aviation officer Bill Payne said. "Of course, the operation has to make its money, pay people and does its maintenance."
All this talk of cutbacks worries residents like Monica Wilson, who live right next to areas prone to wildfires. They'll be depending on CalFire more than ever since vegetation is noticeably dry this year.
"I don't know if response times will be increased, or if they'll have less manpower to create firebreaks," Wilson said. "I think basic fire protection is something our government needs to pay for."
But CalFire says residents shouldn't worry because the state has the ability to move resources around and call on other agencies for help.
"We use fire weather and fire behavior specialists to help us anticipate what weather and other conditions are there and we'll staff it accordingly," CalFire Chief Ken Pimlott said.
The state does have an emergency fund it can dip into in case firefighting costs get out of control. It's also readying to bill rural residents up to $150 a year for fire protection.
cal fire, fire, wildfire, california budget crisis, politics, nannette miranda
- Man ID'd in fatal boating accident in Redwood City
- Cal/OSHA fines BART $210,000 in 2013 fatal accident
- Evacuation came too late for many on sinking ferry
- Investigators reconstruct bus crash in California
- Another woman reported missing on Mt. Tam
- San Leandro High teacher arrested for sex with minor
- Firework thrown into bleachers during Giants game
- Infant boy left alone in car all day in San Jose dies
- Crews placing grass at 49ers' Levi's Stadium
- All 29 defendants in corruption case appear in court
- SF Mayor pledges to fix public housing elevators 28 min ago
- Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants 2-1 to avoid sweep
- weather: Bay Area weather forecast for Friday
- roundup: SF plastic bag ban; Boy killed in Antioch