Watch the news conference here.
(KION and CBS SF) As California starts getting into fire season, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is preparing to spend millions of dollars more on fire preparation and supression strategies, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Up to this point, Newsom said the state has focused on fire abatement projects in 200 vulnerable communities and 35 high-profile vegetation and fuel management projects. One of them is still happening along Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz mountains, but Newsom said the project should be finished in the next eight days.
Newsom announced in the news conference that the state Public Utilities Commission has established a new wildfire safety division and that PG&E and two other investor-owned utilities will be increasing wildfire mitigation efforts.
Between January and May 2019, there were 675 wildfires statewide, according to Newsom, but there have been 1,135 so far this year, a 60% increase.
This year's budget is expected to include $127 million in enhancements to the state Office of Emergency Services, over the baseline budget approved last year, for wildfire preparation and suppression strategies. Some will also go toward earthquake and disaster planning.