SAN FRANCISCO — California state and local officials are encouraging rebuilding in areas destroyed by wildfires at a time when people should be redirected away from those areas to prevent damage from increasingly destructive wildfires.
A study by the University of California, Berkeley Center for Community Innovation commissioned by Next 10, a nonpartisan think tank, found that state and local policies emphasize retrofitting existing homes, ensuring homes have fuel breaks and communities an evacuation plan.
Researchers say this encourages wildfire victims to rebuild in fire-prone areas.
According to Cal Fire, 2020 was one of the most severe fire seasons on record as 9,917 wildfires burned 4.2 million acres. Over 9,000 structures were destroyed, and 31 people (civilians and firefighters) were killed.
California also experienced its first "Gigafire" because of the August Complex Fire, burning over 1 million acres by itself. Four of California's top five largest wildfires in state history happened in 2020.
If you live in a wildfire-prone zone, Cal Fire suggests creating a defensible space around your home. Defensible space is an area around a building in which vegetation and other debris are completely cleared. At least 100 feet is recommended.
The Department of Homeland Security suggests assembling an emergency kit that has important documents, N95 respirator masks, supplies to grab with you if you’re forced to leave at a moment’s notice. The agency also suggests signing up for local warning system notifications and know your community’s evacuation plans best to prepare yourself and your family in cases of wildfires.
Some counties use Nixle alerts to update residents on severe weather, wildfires, and other news. To sign up, visit www.nixle.com or text your zip code to 888777 to start receiving alerts.
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