MALIBU (CBSLA) — On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in California to prepare for this year’s wildfire season.

The governor waived environmental rules to speed up fire prevention projects that would protect vulnerable communities.

“2017 was the worst fire season in California’s history until 2018. We can’t allow 2019 to maintain that status,” said Newsom.

Malibu’s mayor said one of the projects calls for more than 400 acres of controlled burns to clear brush and chaparral near Big Rock. Mayor Jefferson Wagner supports the plan.

“You have 25 years of accumulated dead brush at the east end of Malibu that’s just waiting for something to go wrong,” said Wagner.

Wagner said his community is still recovering from the Woolsey Fire so he wants to make sure there won’t be a repeat this year.

“If we do a 400 acre prescribed or controlled burn, it makes sense to me. We will have control of it. Animals will be able to get out of the way. That fuel load will be reduced, and then when the big fire comes through, that will be the best break,” said Wagner.

Malibu residents had mixed opinions.

“This latest fire, the Woolsey Fire, I feel bad how we didn’t remove all the brush before the fire hit because had we done that, we could’ve saved a lot of homes,” said Tom Roney.

“Being that I’ve heard about controlled burns getting out of control, and to have it this close to homes, I just think it would be a disaster if they took that chance. So I don’t really think it would be worth the risk,” said Robin Zimmerman.

“When you have a controlled burn, it’s not driven by winds. It’s not driven by dryness. A controlled burn is up hills or across flat areas. And that allows you to be the container of that fire,” said Wagner.


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