Sacramento, CA… Unfortunate realization of our growing wildfire season. Assembly member Bob Wieckowski and the California Forestry Association (Calforests) were saddened to hear the news of the 19 hotshot firefighters who lost their lives fighting a wildfire that has now consumed 50 structure and over 8,400 acres in Arizona. There have been 43 firefighter fatalities reported so far in 2013, including Luke Sheehy from California according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
“Our heart and thoughts go out to the families and friends of the 19 brave firefighters that lost their lives working to protect our communities and wildlands from the growing threat of wildfires” said Calforests President David Bischel. “We need to and we can do more to better prepare for wildfires before they become so dangerous and we are forced to put our firefighter lives at risk.”
The hotshot crew from Prescott Arizona were digging a fire line and creating an escape route on the Yarnell Fire. Hotshot crews often respond to large, high-priority fires. They are trained and have the ability to work in remote areas for extended periods of time with little logistical support. Yet, the safety zone set up by the crew was consumed by the fast spreading fire that grew in force when the area started to experience high temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions on Sunday.
“Warmer temperatures and longer fire seasons mean we should be more focused than ever on reducing the amount of fuel available for these fires,” commented Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont). “That requires a sensible forest management plan that reduces our overstock and preserves our forest land.”
This tragedy comes days after Obama’s roll-out of his Climate Change Action Plan which he spends time focusing on supporting communities to better prepare for climate change impacts. Many states in the West including California will face more wildfires in upcoming years. Better prevention tactics need to be implement in effort to lessen the impacts of these wildfires.
“As our climate continues to grow hotter and drier more needs to be done to prepare for these catastrophic fires,” said Bischel. “We must adapt to our changing environment. We will always have wildfires, but we can do more to mitigate these horrific tragedies. We commend Assembly Chesbro for convening the working group in July to develop much needed fire prevention solutions to hopefully better safeguard our land, communities and lives.”