Get used to it, California. Devastating wildfires are here to stay. At least according to California Gov. Jerry Brown (D).
Declaring wildfires “the new normal,” Brown on Saturday combined natural events — sustained Santa Ana winds, a dry fall, and low humidity — with an observation that California is “getting hotter,” to arrive at an overall cause of the massive wildfires.
Climate ChangeDavid McNew/Stringer/Getty Images
As reported by KTLA, Brown spoke at a news conference in Ventura, where the largest of the wildfires, the Thomas fire, has destroyed 231 square miles and burned down at least 537 structures:
“We’re facing a new reality in this state where fires threaten people’s lives, their property, their neighborhoods, and of course billions and billions of dollars.
We have to have the resources to combat the fires and we have to also invest in managing vegetation and forests, and all the ways we dwell in this very wonderful place, but a place that’s getting hotter.”
Brown suggested wildfires this late in the year are rare: “It’s December and it’s amazing to be able to say we aren’t out of fire season.”
In an interview scheduled on to air on “60 Minutes,” Sunday, Brown scorched President Donald Trump for refusing to tie the wildfires to climate change. Brown says Trump doesn’t “fear the wrath of God”:
“I don’t think President Trump has a fear of the Lord, the fear of the wrath of God, which leads one to more humility […] this is such a reckless disregard for the truth and for the existential consequences that can be unleashed.”
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection updated the wildfire status Saturday afternoon:
CA Wildfire Stats:
Structures Destroyed: 793
Structures Threatened: 25,000
Civilians Evacuated: 90,000
Largest Fire: Thomas Fire at 148,000 acres (over 231 square miles) pic.twitter.com/4J48LFHMcm
— CAL FIRE PIO (@CALFIRE_PIO) December 9, 2017
First Confirmed Fire-Related Victim
As reported by CNN on Saturday, 70-year-old Virginia Pesola of Santa Paula became the first confirmed fire-related victim.
The Ventura County medical examiner’s office determined Pesola, whose body was found in a car on Wednesday authorities believe was involved in an accident, died as the result of “blunt force injuries with terminal smoke inhalation and thermal injuries.”