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State Encourages Residents To Follow Wildfire Evacuation Orders

Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio News

California Office of Emergency Services employees monitor wildfires around the state.

Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio News

Cal Fire and the California Office of Emergency Services are responding to wildfires burning throughout the state.

Ken Pimlott is the director of Cal Fire. He says the Butte and Valley fires are the state’s top priorities.

But he said today more attention must be given to evacuation orders. He says many people living near the Butte fire in the Sierra Foothills did not evacuate soon enough.  

"Firefighters are always going to protect lives and property first. So it diverts our firefighters to helping get these individuals out," he says. "We literally had law enforcement officers and firefighters going house to house, as the flaming front was coming through, pulling people out and getting them to safety."

Pimlot says there was evidence of late evacuations in the Valley Fire as well, where burned out cars were left along the highway.

"Primary message is when evacuation orders are given, please leave orderly and quickly," he says. "And quite frankly, don’t wait until the orders are given. When you realize the situation is what it is, please pack up, follow your plan and then move out of the community safely."

Governor Jerry Brown has authorized an additional $12 million in emergency funds to support firefighting operations. That will fund additional firefighters through December and pay for more helicopters.

In just about two months the state has already spent more than half of its nearly $400 million annual firefighting budget.