UPDATED 1:14 PM PT — Monday, August 12, 2019
California is employing new methods and new technology to fight fires, following two deadly fire seasons. Firefighters in Northern California are already taking action with “prescribed burns,” which are controlled fires that burn vegetation in at risk areas. Officials say this will help containment efforts in the long run.
“They create a more open forest floor, so if a wildfire such as the ‘Rough Fire’ or another big wildfire like that came down on this area it would reach this area that’s already had a lot of vegetation removed with the prescribed fire, and that would do a lot to slow or even stop that approaching wildfire,” explained Rebecca Paterson, an information officer for the National Park Service.
The 2018 ‘Camp Fire’ in Paradise, California quickly became the deadliest fire in the state’s history with the death toll reaching at least 86 people. This comes along with the disastrous ‘Woolsey Fire’ in Malibu, California burning at the same time in 2018, which prompted Governor Gavin Newsom to unveil a wildfire prevention plan that includes new firefighting technology.
“We had 361 requests for air support last year in 2018 that we could not meet. 361 requests for air support because we didn’t have the tools. We didn’t have the technology. We didn’t have the equipment.” — Gavin Newsom – Governor, Calif.
Some of these new tools include fire tankers, fire detection cameras, and the coveted Blackhawk helicopters, which can drop up to four times as much fire retardant material than before. This is all a part of a one billion dollar investment by the state for fire safety and emergency preparedness. Firefighters hope the new additions will better protect their personnel as California awaits its next fires.