California Gov. Gavin Newsom, CalFire Chief Thom Porter, Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci and other officials being briefed prior to touring the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County on Oct. 25, 2019. (CalFire photo)

California Adds Millions to Budget to Upgrade Wildfire Response Alongside COVID-19 Efforts

With the impending fire season approaching in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state nevertheless is preparing to spend millions more for wildfire preparation and suppression strategies, including establishment of a new wildfire safety division in the state Public Utilities Commission.

In addition, Newsom said PG&E and the two other investor-owned utilities in the state would be tasked with increasing their own wildfire mitigation efforts even as the state is working to usher PG&E out of bankruptcy.

The governor noted that between January and May of 2019, there were 675 wildfires across the state, while there have now been 1,135 wildfires in the state so far this year, approximately a 60 percent increase in a year with below average precipitation and a drop in Sierra snowpack levels.

Read more at CBS SF

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