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'New Normal' Means New Mindset On California Wildfires

Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP

In this early morning Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 photo released by Santa Barbara County Fire Department, firefighters working on structure protection, keep a close eye on nearby flames atop Shepard Mesa Road in Carpinteria, Calif.

Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP

This weekend while visiting burn zones in Southern California, Gov. Jerry Brown said year-round fire is the new normal.

With six large blazes burning in the state, CAL FIRE Chief Ken Pimlott says Californians need a different outlook on fire and will need to adapt.

“Our mindset needs to be programmed around how are we going to live with it,” says Pimlott. “We’re always going to be looking at how we can improve our system of response, but that’s not the only piece. What we need to be looking at are all the other tools.”

Tools like: working with public officials when planning communities, better managing forests and reducing flammable vegetation around homes.

“If we go into this with a mindset that we’re not going to stop all of these fires, but that we’re going to build a state that is resilient to the recovery and resistant to when they do occur, and we build that into our mindset and start taking actions, we can make real progress.”

Pimlott says every Californian should be cautious about fires moving forward.

“When you go to bed at night you need to ensure you have a plan to be notified,” says Pimlott. “When you’re living in these fire communities fire conditions conditions are real. We’re still certainly in fire season.”

He says this change must start at the city level to create a fire safe state because “these kinds of events can occur really anywhere. Often they’re a very microcosm of the bigger picture.”

In response CAL FIRE is now staffing 52 fire engines across California year-round and widening fire season because of the late and early fire starts. 

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