SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that California has secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help ensure the availability of vital resources to suppress the SCU Lightning Complex Fire burning in Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties.
The FMAG, which is provided through the President’s Disaster Relief Fund on cost-share basis, will assist local, state and tribal agencies responding to the fires to apply for 75-percent reimbursement of their eligible fire suppression costs.
The fire has burned approximately 229,968 acres and more than 8,000 homes. Cal OES, working with CAL FIRE, is mobilizing multiple immediate need fire strike teams and firefighters with aircraft, fire engines, dozers and water tenders as well as shelter operations staff and emergency communications capability.
Governor Newsom has activated the State Operations Center to its highest level and declared a statewide emergency due to the widespread fires and extreme weather conditions. California has secured FMAGs to bolster the state’s response to various fires burning in Santa Cruz, San Mateo Napa, Nevada, Lake, Solano, Yolo and Monterey counties.
The Governor last month announced that the state would hire 858 more firefighters and six California Conservation Corps (CCC) crews through October to bolster firefighting support amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past year and a half, California has taken major action and made critical investments to fortify wildfire preparedness and response capabilities. CAL FIRE completed the last of its 35 emergency fuels management projects in May, making 90,000 acres safer ahead of wildfire season and protecting 200 vulnerable communities.
Major investments include augmenting the CAL FIRE air fleet with new FIREHAWK S-70i helicopters and C-130 airplanes, and bolstering firefighting surge capacity and pre-positioning capabilities. The state also launched an Innovation Procurement Sprint to develop early warning technologies and place fire detection cameras across the state. This year’s budget included $85.6 million in new, ongoing dollars to fund permanent firefighting positions, and continues the funding for CAL FIRE to procure innovative technology that allows us to model fire behavior.
Ahead of wildfire season, the state won critical safety victories from PG&E to make the utility more accountable to the state and ensure wildfire safety and reliability are top priorities. The state gained new oversight authority over wildfire and public safety power shutoffs and increased safety expertise inside the company. The Governor also signed SB 350, which enacted real consequences if the company doesn’t act safely. The state bolstered requirements for all of the state’s investor-owned utilities’ wildfire prevention operational plans and requires utilities to invest $5 billion in infrastructure. All three large IOUs have taken steps to reduce the size and scope of public safety power shutoffs by hardening infrastructure, reducing hazards through vegetation management, sectionalizing the grid so that smaller areas can be taken offline, and improving weather monitoring technology and modeling.