The Northern California wildfires that have burned thousands of acres, damaged critical infrastructure and destroyed homes led Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento to declare a state of emergency Saturday. Brown noted there were 17 wildfires burning throughout the state Friday and pointed out the combined forces of a mutual-aid region or regions likely would be required to bring them under control. He also ordered the mobilization of the California National Guard.
In the governor’s emergency proclamation, he mentioned the effects of the wildfires in Amador, Butte, El Dorado, Humboldt, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta and Siskiyou counties. And he said the fires continue to threaten homes, power lines and roadways.
California’s wildfires are especially worrisome this year because of the exceptional-drought conditions persisting in more than one-half of the state, as measured by the U.S. Drought Monitor. (Brown declared a separate state of emergency because of the drought conditions Jan. 17.)
The combination of drought conditions, high temperatures and lightning storms has fueled the recent spate of wildfires, Brown indicated in his emergency proclamation. As a result, California accounts for about one-half of the 31 uncontained large fires nationwide currently listed by the U.S. Forest Service’s Active Fire Mapping Program.
In fighting the fires, Brown suggested California would be seeking the aid of other state governments and the U.S. government. He said a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant, or FMAG, had already been OK’d for the Eiler Fire near the community of Hat Creek in Shasta County.
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Brown also issued the following two orders, which are applicable within California:
1. All agencies of the state government utilize and employ state personnel, equipment, and facilities for the performance of any and all activities consistent with the direction of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services and the State Emergency Plan. Also, all citizens are to heed the advice of emergency officials with regard to this emergency in order to protect their safety.
2. The California National Guard shall mobilize under California Military and Veterans Code section 146 (mobilization in case of catastrophic fires) to support disaster response and relief efforts and coordinate with all relevant state agencies, including the Office of Emergency Services, and all relevant state and local emergency responders and law enforcement within the impacted areas.