OROVILLE, Calif. (AP) – California is in such an urgent race with another devastating wildfirethat officials began soliciting local project ideas even before they had money to pay for them. It faces such a threat of drought that the governor said Tuesday that he has as needed. In average years, the worst fires don’t start until late summer or fall, leaving a window through about May to thin forests, clear buffer zones designed to slow the near communities, and beef up the state’s seasonal fire crews.
Not this year, officials said.
A dry winter is already blending into a tinder-dry summer that has produced twice as many wildfires as.
That led legislative leaders to speed up what Newsom had proposed as a $1 billion infusion in fire mitigation projects during the fiscal year that starts in July. NewsomTuesday a $536 million early action package, roughly $200 million more than he had sought to spend in the first half of this calendar year.
He signed it while awkwardly seated on the step of a firetruck for lack of a better-prearranged location. Near a long boat ramp at one of the state’s significant reservoirs, thisleads to nothing but grass and rocks, where this year there should be abundant water.
Fire conditions have worsened so much inthat once-rare fire tornadoes have become more common as mega-fires create their weather. Last year’s record-setting wildfire season scorched more than 4% of the state while and destroying nearly 10,500 buildings.
“These are extremes the likes of which these men and women in uniform have never experienced,” Newsom said in Butte County, near where a massive fire burned last year and not far from where another wind-driven fire nearly leveled the Sierra foothills town of Paradise more than two years ago. Beth Bowersox, a dispatcher with the state’s firefighting agency, related Tuesday how she named the 2018 Camp Fire after a nearby landmark at the onset of what became California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire,.
of dollars to fight fires once they ignite.
The newthrough grants. Hence, the state solicited project proposals from local governments and other organizations even before the budget appropriation, said Jessica Morse, deputy secretary for forest with the California Natural Resources Agency.
She told Senate budget agencies are hiring now while starting on projects designed to protect communities.Monday that it streamlined standard contracting requirements to get grants out within weeks instead of the usual months. And state firefighting