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Experts Say California Unprepared for Another Catastrophic Fire Season

Experts Say California Unprepared for Another Catastrophic Fire Season
An American flag flies in front of a business that was destroyed by the Camp Fire on November 21, 2018 in Paradise, California.  ( Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 14 April 2021 06:37 PM

Experts say California isn’t prepared for another catastrophic fire season despite a half-billion-dollar emergency funding plan approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom, reports The Guardian.

“This is a down payment, not the totality of our efforts,” Newsom said at a press conference last week. “We’re investing a historic amount of money in preparation of this year’s fire season.”

The $536 million would go toward forestry management, improvements in defensible space around rural homes, vegetation management and provides money for “home hardening,” but some say it’s not enough.

More than 4 million acres burned across the state last year, the worst wildfire season in modern California history. Things could be worse this year following a second straight dry winter that has plunged California into drought-like conditions.

"We are in a very deep hole that we're gonna have to dig ourselves out of," Chris Field, a climate scientist at Stanford University, told the Guardian.

"We're definitely looking at a serious challenge ahead," he added.

“Fire season 2021 is looking grim,” the state’s only wildfire research center said on Twitter on April 5.

“Our region's FMCs (fuel-moisture content) are tracking lower than the minimum — a new record low. This is caused by the lack/delay of new growth. Average is 137%, low is 115%, 2021= 97%.”

The lower the FMC, the more prone forests are to burning.

“The lack of rain this season has severely impacted our chaparral live fuel moistures,” tweeted SJSU Fire Weather Lab. “Wow, never seen April fuels look so... dry. No new growth anywhere in this Chamise. April is climatologically the highest live FMC of the season. Very Scary!”

A group of Republican lawmakers said the funding deal isn’t enough.

“The Governor’s efforts, while appreciated, are quite simply not enough and do not recognize the urgency of the situation,” Assembly members James Gallagher, Megan Dahle and Frank Bigelow, all of whom represent north state districts that have been vulnerable to wildfires, said in a joint statement. “This fire season is already trending worse than last year, and the last five years have been some of our worst. Yet, the Governor is proposing the same funding as last year for forestry management projects. We need to double it. Not five years from now, right now.”

Some Democrats, though, applauded the plan, including state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa.

“This makes sound investments in what we need to safeguard life and property,” Dodd said in a prepared statement. “I applaud my fellow lawmakers for taking this proactive step toward avoiding the devastation we’ve seen over the past five years.”

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Experts say California isn't prepared for another catastrophic fire season despite a half-billion-dollar emergency funding plan approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom, reports The Guardian.
fires, california, newsom
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2021-37-14
Wednesday, 14 April 2021 06:37 PM
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