FOLSOM, Calif. (KTXL) — The Folsom City Council declared a local emergency during Tuesday night’s meeting as the state faces fire dangers in the form of extreme drought and record-breaking, triple-digit temperatures.
Tuesday’s declaration follows a request from the Folsom Fire Department and its chief, who cited 47 fires in city-owned spaces that firefighters had to battle last year. Fire officials said the fires were all human-caused.
“Wildfires can be the result of both human and natural activity, but the vast majority of the fires in open
spaces are human caused. With approximately 1,000 acres of city-owned open space, it becomes even more dire to restrict human access to open space areas,” the Folsom Fire Department wrote to the City Council. “Activities such as discarded cigarettes, unattended campfires, the buming of trash, and any use of open flame in a dry environment are some of the common causes that lead to fires. Open space vegetation fires very rarely happen due to natural causes, with the exception of lightning, without some type of associated human element.”
As a result of the emergency declaration, the fire chief will have the authority to temporarily close city-owned, off-trail spaces where there is an increased chance for a fire to catch. Before Chief Ken Cusano can make any call, however, he has to consult the city manager.
“The basics will be most of the areas along bike trails, walking paths that are on city-owned property that are adjacent to any of the homes or businesses in the open-space areas that will be kind of restricted to public access,” Chief Cusano told FOX40. “The bike trails, the established walking paths, those will remain open.”
California’s drought has only worsened and perhaps one of the starkest images of its impact on the local landscape is Folsom Lake. Its levels have dropped so low the remnants of a Gold Rush village settled in the late 1840s have reemerged on its shores.
In his department’s report, Chief Cusano also cited the hundreds of thousands of acres already burned by wildfires this year in the state and the dry fuels that could help spark even more fires.
Cusano became Folsom’s fire chief at the end of October but has been with the fire department since 1998.