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Gov. Newsom discusses California wildfire preparedness amid heatwave

California Governor Gavin Newsom along with state fire and emergency officials addressed the state's wildfire preparedness at a news conference Wednesday at the Cal Fire Aviation Management, based in McClellan.

"We are not just in a fire season, but we are in a fire year," according to Joe Tyler, Director and Fire Chief at CalFire.

Tyler said the California Fire Service as a whole has responded to more than 3,500 wild land fires that have burned more than 207,000 acres so far in 2024. "The same time last year we were down 538 fires and we have burned 197,000 more acres this year than we did last year," stated Tyler.

He added that in the last 24 hours, there have been 44 new wild land fires across the state. Tyler called on everyone in the state to exercise extra caution when mowing, towing, welding, shooting, or any other activity that can create a spark and potentially a wild fire.

During the news conference, Governor Newsom highlighted the state's investments in fire fighting equipment which he said "represents the largest fire suppression fleet in the world."

The news conference coincided with the decision by the National Interagency Fire Center to raise the current preparedness level to a 4 out of 5.

"What a preparedness level does nationally is it essentially tells us how many areas of the country are asking for help to come in. As you start going up in the preparedness levels, it means we have more areas around country that are needing focused inputted resources. We are starting to prioritize our resources not just within an area of forest or a town, but actually statewide and then nationally, " according to Adrienne Freeman, a spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service, which is part of NIFC.

NIFC has two statewide, large dispatch centers located in in the northern and southern part of the state, which also have a preparedness level.

"Those preparedness levels within California for the federal government system are still at preparedness level 3. So the 4 is an increase in the national complexity and severity, but we in California are still locally at a preparedness level 3," according to Freeman.

So what does this mean for our local fire departments in the Coachella Valley? News Channel 3 is speaking with representatives at the Cathedral City Fire Department to help explain what these preparedness levels mean for local crews and equipment.

Watch News Channel 3 at 5:00 p.m. for the full report.

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Jennifer Franco

Jennifer Franco is the weekend anchor/weekday reporter for KESQ News Channel 3


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