LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday the state plans to hire about 1,400 extra seasonal firefighters ahead of what could be another major fire season.
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Gov. Newsom approved $80 million in emergency funding that will allow CAL Fire to hire 1,256 firefighters, another 119 personnel for helicopter crews (helitack), and 24 personnel through the California National Guard to support fuel management efforts.
Fire season traditionally runs from May to October. However, in recent years, large wildfires have also broken out between November and January.
In 2020, California experienced a record wildfire season, with 9,917 wildfires scorching 4.257 million acres. 33 people were killed in the fires and 10,488 homes and structures were lost.
On Monday, several members of California’s congressional delegation called on the federal government to provide the state with a year-round staffing of federal firefighters to better handle the recent surge in wildfires. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Alex Padilla and 21 House members signed onto a letter penned to the USDA and Department of the Interior stating that California is entering a “new normal” as a result of climate change.
Newsom echoed that sentiment Tuesday.
“In California, climate change is making the hots hotter and the dries drier, leaving us with world record-breaking temperatures and devastating wildfires threatening our communities,” Newsom said in a statement. “We aren’t just waiting for the next crisis to hit – this funding will support our heroic firefighters to save lives as they work to prevent and tackle destructive wildfires.”