Gov. Newsom Pledges Millions in Fire Relief, Preparedness

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COLFAX — Twenty-four hours after he was sworn in, Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out a plan to make California communities safer from wildfires.

Fire maps are able to show the history of wildfires that threaten homes in and around Colfax. They’re a reason Gov. Newsom chose the area to present a comprehensive plan to deal with wildfires by investing in new technology like infrared camera sensing gear.

The goal is to combine those technologies with more equipment and ground crews, as well as continuing thinning and forest management practices that will reduce wildfire danger.

Newsom has budgeted $305 million this year alone to the effort.

“We are stepping up our game,” Newsom said. “I hear you, I get it, we need to do more and do better. These last two years have been devastating.”

Emergency planning is also a key, including identifying at-risk communities, which encompasses the people who are the most vulnerable.

“Seniors, people that don’t have the mobility many others have, folks that don’t have the resources that others have,” Newsom explained.

A huge problem with most devastating fires is the lack of reliable early warning systems for evacuations. The governor will invest $55 million over two years to digital phones systems. Continued funding may come from a 911 fee.

“I know, a 911 fee, I know, I get it. No one is happy when they hear that word ‘fee’ but we think it’s appropriate,” Newsom said.

The governor’s comprehensive approach will take time but local officials attending believe it’s a time to take action.

Newsom said he’s collaborated with the governors of Oregon and Washington to ask the Trump administration to begin discussions on how forests can be managed because the majority of forests in California are federal.

He’s also hinted that the reserve fund in California is bigger than expected and that could be the source of some of the funds, which have to be approved by the legislature.

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