CAL FIRE Submits Report on Protecting Vulnerable Communities from Catastrophic Wildfire

Moving urgently to further protect California’s most vulnerable communities from the immediate risk of catastrophic wildfires this year, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has recommended a suite of actions to maximize safety and improve forest health in the coming months and longer term.

In a 45-Day Report to Governor Gavin Newsom in response to Executive Order N-05-19, CAL FIRE systematically identified high priority fuels reduction projects and other measures to immediately begin to protect over 200 of California’s most wildfire-vulnerable communities and put the state on a path toward long-term wildfire prevention and forest health.

“California is increasingly at risk of wildfire, and certain populations are particularly vulnerable given the location of their communities and socioeconomic factors such as age and lack of mobility. The tragic loss of lives and property in the town of Paradise during last year’s Camp Fire makes that clear,” CAL FIRE Director Thom Porter said.

The plan outlines the need for an 'all-of-the-above approach' to protect public safety and improve the health of California's forest ecosystems.

The CAL FIRE report identifies more than 30 strategically-defined local projects that can be addressed urgently in partnership with communities to make a difference this wildfire season. Examples include removal of hazardous dead trees, vegetation clearing, the creation of fuel breaks and community defensible spaces, and creation of ingress and egress corridors.

The report also recommends actions to accelerate measures such as home-hardening by educating the public and promoting the use of CAL FIRE’s Ready for Wildfire App, which outlines steps residents can take to create defensible space and make their homes more resilient to wind-driven embers and other fire risks.

The report notes that California experienced the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in its history in 2017 and 2018, which killed over 100 people, destroyed more than 22,700 structures, and burned over 1.8 million acres.

More than 25 million acres of California wildlands are classified as under very high or extreme fire threat, and the proliferation of new homes in the wildland-urban interface magnify the threat and place substantially more people and property at risk than in preceding decades.

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