California’s firefighting agency, Cal Fire, has already responded to about 1,500 fires this year. That’s nearly twice what would be normal. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, Governor Jerry Brown wants Cal Fire to have more money to fight the extended wildfire season.
Under Brown’s May budget revision, Cal Fire would receive an additional $66 million. Cal Fire’s Daniel Berlant says the money would allow the department to retain the seasonal firefighters it’s hired, including 300 last month.
Berlant: “We were able to staff up much earlier than usual. That has allowed us to meet this increase in need so much earlier in the year. The 300 that we just hired, that’s going to help us to get through this summer since it has already been a very busy and very active fire season. We are feeling very confident that we will have the resources we need to battle this large increase in wildfires.”
Berlant say the most recent hires are in addition to the 2400 seasonal firefighters the department typically takes on.
The state is currently using emergency funds to pay for the additional firefighting positions. The legislature must act on Brown’s proposed budget by the middle of June.