At 1 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 23, state officials provided an update on the response and recovery efforts to California’s wildfires via livestream on the twitter page of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
Mark Ghilarducci, the Director of Cal OES, took to the stand to give an update on the current fire situation across the state of California and the coordinated efforts to protect the state.
“As of today, we have more that 13,000 state personnel helping combat these wildfires across the state,” Ghilarducci said.
They also mentioned that as of Monday afternoon, Governor Newsom requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to Aid Wildfire Response and Recovery Efforts for individual assistance, public assistance and hazard mitigation for the following counties: Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, and Trinity.
Ghilarducci said that the request for Presidential assistance is in response to the already immense residential and infrastructure damage across the state in addition to what is to come.
Thom Porter, Chief Director of Cal Fire, was up next on the podium to provide an update on the fire agencies that are currently combatting the wildfires across the state, as well as what resources are looking like among these crews.
“All of these fires have their own specific needs for resources,” Porter said.
They said that we are currently in the middle point of the peak season for resources, so it is essential that they are used wisely. Porter explained that this means prioritizing resources to areas of California that are at a moderate risk level for new big fires.
Porter goes on to say that California is ahead of pace this year for the second year running. They said that the state is almost three times over the average acres burned over a five year period with this season alone.
“Fires are burning in ways that nobody has seen before,” Porter said. “Mother nature is in control and we are doing everything we can to save your lives and property.”
Tony Scardina, Deputy Regional Forester, then provided updates on forest and road closures.
“We, in California, are currently at preparedness level five which was triggered on July 14,” Scardina said. “That is the third time in 20 years that that has ever occurred.”
Scardina said that the fires that we are seeing are unique and historic. They said that the Dixie Fire is currently the number two priority fire in the state right now and its perimeter is 500 miles. This gives a picture of the size and magnitude of these fires that are being combatted.
There are currently nine large, active fires in the state of California and as of Sunday, Aug. 22, the state decided to close nine national forests to ensure the safety of citizens.
Porter said multiple times that preparedness is key in keeping people safe.
“You need to be ready to GO,” Porter said. “Every Californian needs to be ready.”
It is important for the citizens of California to put together a bag of important documents and have a set plan of action at all times.