Newsom signs state of emergency to support California communities recovering from wildfires
Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed the California Emergency Management Agency state of emergency, giving the agency a broader scope of authority to support recovery efforts.
Newsom signed the executive order at a meeting of the governor’s office leaders on July 21 at the California State Library.
The state of emergency will help the state agency focus its resources on prevention, mitigation and restoration in the face of multiple wildfires that have ravaged the state in the last six months and will continue to do so through the end of 2020.
The governor issued an executive order Sept. 9 that expanded the scope of the emergency declaration, giving the state’s emergency management office the authority to develop, coordinate and direct public safety and preparedness, emergency management and recovery efforts related to wildfires. The declaration gave the governor the authority to issue an emergency order to state and local officials to support recovery efforts.
The governor said he was issuing the emergency declaration to meet the need to address the wildfire disaster, including evacuations and support to first responders, emergency health services, critical infrastructure protection and public safety.
“The California Emergency Management Agency has a critical role in supporting and coordinating the efforts of California’s citizens and first responders,” Newsom said in a statement. “We have been able to make progress, but the fire season is long and it will take time to rebuild many communities.”
The governor has been calling on the state to expand the California Emergency Management Agency’s authority to support recovery efforts since early June, when five major fires burned across four of the state’s major forests, all of which were in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and all started by people. Over the last six months, there have been nine major wildfires in six counties, burning more than 250,000 acres and destroying more than 1,000 structures.
The first three fires, including the May 17 fire at Mount Conness, caused at least $300 million in damage, and most of the fires have burned through or near urban areas. The May 17 Conness fire destroyed 15 homes and forced hundreds of people to evacuate.
The fire season has been tough. In the last year, some of the worst fires were in late September and early November, including the Carr Fire and the Firebaugh Fire, which burned a combined 1,500 acres