As what is usually California’s “busiest fire season” is approaching, officials said that the agency that oversees emergency fire responses is running short of money.
Cal Fire’s director, in a letter to state lawmakers on Thursday, had asked lawmakers for an additional $234 million to be made available as early as possible, .
He wrote that fires which are caused by climate change driven extreme weather conditions have led to massive spending across the state. So, because of the record-breaking intense and large wildfires in the months of July and August, including the Carr Fire’s deadly tornado of flame, less than $11 million of the agency’s 2018 $442.8 million budget is remaining, he said.
He also noted that more resources now have been deployed to several new blazes in the past few days, including the Sliger Fire in El Dorado County, which by Thursday had consumed as much as 104 acres and was at 45 percent containment. Cal Fire still continues to battle the Ranch Fire, which has ravaged 410,203 acres — an area even larger than the whole Los Angeles — and is 98 percent contained. This is one of the two parts of the Mendocino Complex Fire that grew to become the state’s biggest recorded wildfire in history.
Ken Pimlott, explained that the additional funding would also ensure that sufficient authority exists to respond to wildfire activity that occurs between the months of September and November. The agency has spent an average of $156 million during those months, in the last five years. The remaining $78 million would be used for buying additional helicopters and hiring more firefighters.
It has been reported that in the last 10 years, Cal Fire has requested additional funding for 7 years. However, this is the first time the appeal has been made so early in the year. This goes to show the urgency of requirement for money.