Cal Fire to Change Wildfire Prevention Strategies with Gov. Newsom’s Direction

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SACRAMENTO -- In his first State of the State address, Gov. Gavin Newsom only made a few quick references to California's deadly wildfires.

Cal Fire Director Thom Porter says the Newsom administration helped to develop an entirely new strategy to prevent wildfires.

"We have to do more proactively to reduce the risk to our communities," Porter told FOX40.

Historically, the number of trees and brush that could ignite and how many escape routes are available were the only measures Cal Fire used to assess which areas were most at risk of fire devastation.

"What we’re adding now is more of a socioeconomic and social element," Porter explained. "That includes age, that includes number of vehicles that a community has for evacuation. A lot of things that we haven't typically looked at."

Those ideas came from lessons learned after the Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire the state has ever seen. Many who died in the wildfire were seniors who could not escape.

Newsom also announced he’s moving one-third of National Guard troops from the southern border back up north for fire prevention efforts, which would be another first for the state.

"I'm happy with that. We do need some help out there," said Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Chico. "Removing them from the border I don’t think is a good idea. There is a border problem."

Nielsen represents Paradise, the community devastated by the Camp Fire. While he takes a hardline stance against removing National Guardsman from the border, he generally supports using troops for fire prevention.

Sen. Nielsen said he hopes Newsom keeps his word to hold Pacific Gas and Electric accountable.

"The victims of the fires are the first priority, not any companies that may or may not have caused the fire," he said.

Next week, Cal Fire is expecting to publish a report that details a number of major changes it's making to its fire prevention strategy.

The governor’s proposed budget would invest $1 billion over five years.

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