COLFAX — Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order to hire nearly 400 firefighters across California.
Cal Fire says adding the extra firefighters will not only keep their crews safe but also our communities.
Still, they’re not naive about the dangers of this year’s fire season. It’s why they’ve been out here for months clearing a fuel break in Colfax.
Newsom surveyed the progress made on the North Fork American River Fuel Break Project on Tuesday.
“We promoted a commitment to do more and do better as it relates to mitigation efforts to make sure we are protecting the most vulnerable communities in this state,” Newsom said.
It’s one of 35 projects across the state that the governor ordered crews speed up to prevent devastating wildfires. He expects 33 to be done by December.
But that does little to mitigate the danger of this year’s fire season.
“We are at a turning point right now. The expectation of this summer has been that it will be a potentially large and damaging kind of season,” Cal Fire Director Thom Porter said.
Newsom’s order adds 393 firefighters.
“We’re going to get a fourth member on these Cal Fire crews,” Newsom said. “I think that’s going to help morale. It’s going to help with rotation.”
Porter says the increased staffing will significantly increase the amount of work each engine will be able to do.
Newsom also touched on PG&E’s preventative power shutoffs, saying he supports shutting off power only in extreme circumstances.
When asked about skyrocketing homeowners insurance rates in fire-prone areas, Newsom said he will work to address the problem but did not go into specifics.
“We’ve got to focus on the insurance and the hardening and the defensible spaces and find additional resources as we move forward to address some of the legitimate anxiety homeowners have about their inability to pay,” he said.
Newsom added he knows there is still a long way to go to fully protect California communities from wildfires, but the state is off to a good start.