Cal Fire under fire for how it handled more than 3 million dollars. There’s still $800,000 left int he account, that’s now frozen
It’s not for the equipment and the training to fight the fire, but the equipment and the training to figure out how the fire started.
“The larger corporations that owed large amounts of dollars, many times in the millions of dollars… many time a small percentage of that would be put aside for fire investigation training,” said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for Cal Fire.
Take the Robbers Fire, started in Placer County on July 11th. Cal Fire says it was Bryon Mason who started that blaze.
It used to be that, when the fines were big enough in a case like that one, Cal Fire’s attorneys would set aside a small portion of the judgement to pay for the training and equipment of fire investigators. The actual bank account was kept by a non-profit association of District Attorneys.
But by law, all the money from those judgements is supposed to go back into the State’s general fund.
“There’s never been any intention to hide the money or to fleece the State’s general fund,” Berlant said. “Our investigation program has brought in millions of dollars.”
The training and equipment for that program is currently coming out of Cal Fire’s general budget.
It’s significant to note that Cal Fire froze the fund themselves over a year ago, over questions about how to divide the spending between local and State fire investigators.