CALIFORNIA (KTXL) — As wildfires and red flag warnings start popping up in both rural and urban areas, keeping emergency crews scrambling, state leaders gave an update on big picture wildfire response.
“I am determined to use all the tools in our belt to prevent wildfires when we can, put them out quickly when possible, and help communities recover from wildfire emergencies,” US Senator Alex Padilla said at the virtual meeting.
Padilla opened the meeting by speaking about federal help underway to address fire danger, including the Biden Administration’s infrastructure law, part of which includes funding for putting power lines underground.
“This investment will prevent fires and decrease the power shut-offs that Californias face every summer,” Padilla said.
He also talked about his proposed “Fire Act”, currently awaiting action in the Senate, which would allow FEMA to set up in advance of potential fires, as they would before a hurricane or tornado.
The goal would be a more rapid response for victims.
So far this year, California already has nearly 2,300 wildfires, burning almost 11,000 acres, according to Daniel Berlant, a Deputy Cal Fire Director.
“In addition to our year-round firefighters, we have already ramped up our seasonal firefighters and are staffing additional firefighting equipment like fire engine helicopters, including our new fire hawks, air tankers and even Bulldozers,” Berlant said.
On Wednesday, Cal Fire announced $118 million dollars in wildfire protection grants to fund 144 efforts across the state. Local projects getting money include Plumas Fire safe council for wildfire mitigation, El Dorado County fire safe council for hazardous tree removal and fuel breaks, and Butte County vegetation treatment on evacuation roads.
“We are ready but we really need the public to do the same,” Berlant said.