Cal Fire aircraft at the air base. Photo YubaNet

SACRAMENTO, Calif. May 8, 2018 – Governor Brown declared May 6-12 “Wildfire Awareness Week” to urge homeowners that Fire Defense is Self Defense, Get Ready – We Are! The kickoff event was held at CAL FIRE’s McClellan Air Base on Monday with CAL FIRE, Cal OES, California National Guard, Forest Service officials along California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird addressing the challenges for the upcoming high fire season.

CAL FIRE Chief Ken Pimlott at the Kickoff event. Photo YubaNet

“Our firefighters train hard to prepare for wildfires. Residents need to do the same,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE Director, and California’s State Forester. “Wind-driven embers can destroy homes or neighborhoods far from the actual flame front of a wildfire. The reality is that in a major wildfire, there simply will not be enough aircraft, fire engines or firefighters to defend every home in the early stages of the incident. This reality requires you to take personal responsibility for protecting yourself, your family, and your community.”

John Laird, the California Secretary for Natural Resources. Photo YubaNet

Secretary Laird recalled being at last year’s kickoff event and talking about the tree mortality within the Sierra and the heightened fire danger. “This year, we already have 300 more fires than the 10-year average to date!”

According to a CAL FIRE news release, “Damage to the state’s forests from the extended drought will continue to intensify wildfire conditions this year. An estimated 129 million trees have died across the state due to drought conditions and the effects of the bark beetle infestation. These dead and dying trees make forests more susceptible to destructive wildfires and pose public safety risks from falling trees. No amount of rain will bring these dead trees back and it will take several years of continued rain to get back to normal levels of moisture.”

California National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Baldwin. Photo YubaNet

Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci and California National Guard Colonel Baldwin reiterated the readiness of their resources and the cooperation between agencies. Last year’s October fires in the Sierra and the Wine Country as well as the Thomas Fire in Southern California in December serve as a stark reminder that fire season is now year-round.

Chief Pimlott had a message for Sierra Nevada Foothills residents specifically. “If you live in the Sierra Nevada, you know the risks, you know fire. The time to prepare for the next fire is now. The grasses are continuing to dry, you need to prepare now. We are going to lose the window to safely remove fuels here very quickly. Be mindful when you use metal blades that can create sparks and ignite a fire, but please don’t wait to do the necessary work. Now is the time.” Pimlott told YubaNet.

USFS Bob Baird

Forest Service Region 5 Fire and Aviation Director Bob Baird joined the state agencies in reminding everyone that fire knows no boundaries and interagency cooperation in California is second to none. The Forest Service recently held their MAFFS training with the California National Guard and more joint training opportunities are coming up.

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