California Fire Safe Council praises work of local councils
California wildfires in September and October will be recorded as the most devastating ever to hit the state.
The California Fire Safe Council has been in touch with many local Fire Safe Councils throughout the fire ravaged areas in counties ranging from Riverside and Orange in the south, to Napa, Sonoma, Nevada, Mendocino, Butte, and Yuba counties in the north, including the city of Santa Rosa.
“The Board and staff of the California Fire Safe Council send heartfelt prayers and condolences to all of those who have suffered losses of family, friends, homes, businesses and pets throughout the fire areas,” Jerry Davies, chair of the statewide organization, said in a news release.
More than 8,000 homes, businesses and buildings have been destroyed, and 42 individuals have lost their lives from these fires. According to the release, the count could rise as firefighters and first responders continue their work.
“The weather patterns have been cooperating somewhat now and firefighters are now gaining the upper hand on the remaining fires,” said David Shew, staff chief with Cal Fire and California Fire Council board member.
According to Evan Kilkus, a member of the Lake Berryessa Fire Safe Council, Atlas Peak, Soda Canyon and Mt. Veeder suffered great losses due to embers carried by heavy winds and fire storms. The City of Santa Rosa was devastated. Homes in Circle Oaks in Napa County received very little damage due to vigorous fire prevention programs conducted by Circle Oaks residents.
The release suggests homeowners to work with their local Fire Safe Councils, Cal Fire, and local fire departments to practice defensible space rules, search for ways to protect their homes from embers getting in, plant fire retardant vegetation and use fire retardant building materials in homes prone to wildfires.
“One major message from all fire prevention seminars and events conducted by CFSC, local Fire Safe Councils and the Napa Communities Firewise Foundation, has been the Ready, Set, Go program. Homeowners heeded the call to evacuate when it was given and that has saved many lives,” said Stephen Gort, California Fire Safe Council executive director and a Napa resident who was evacuated from his home in Circle Oaks.
According to the release, there are state and federal voices calling for changes in federal law to help the United States Forest Service, Department of the Interior, and state agencies cope with major fires by not having to use their budgets for suppressing these wildfires. It is predicted that 67 percent of the Forest Service budget will be spent on wildfires by the year 2025. Congressional leaders say these dollars could be used for local fire prevention programs if federal fire suppression was paid for with Congressional appropriations similar to the national flood program provided by FEMA.
Congressional appropriations to suppress fires would allow greater funding to CFSC by federal agencies, the release states, to plan and implement stronger fire prevention programs in California working with the Fire Safe Councils, home and business owners, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Interior Department, Cal Fire, local fire departments and state and local government agencies.
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