With more than 15,000 firefighters battling more than a dozen major wildfires across California, state officials are urging residents to be prepared to evacuate before they are ordered to do so.
Wildfires have burned more than 1.8 million acres across the state this year, according to Cal Fire, including the Dixie Fire in the Feather River Canyon that has burned more than 847,000 acres and the Caldor Fire near South Lake Tahoe that has spread to more than 208,000 acres.
As of Monday, emergency crews were using nearly 1,200 fire engines and 111 helicopters to fight the 15 major fires currently burning across the state, according to California Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci.
“‘Warning’ doesn’t mean you have to stick around and wait for the order; you can go during a warning.”Chief Thom Porter, Cal Fire
California is also receiving firefighting resources from Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia. The state had received emergency resources from Louisiana as well before Hurricane Ida made landfall in the Gulf of Mexico, Ghilarducci said.
“We know that a lot of work lies ahead but this continues to be a truly one-team, one-fight effort,” he said.
Ghilarducci and Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter also noted that residents in areas with high fire risk should not feel like they need to wait for an evacuation order if they are warned that one may or may not be coming.
“‘Warning’ doesn’t mean you have to stick around and wait for the order; you can go during a warning,” Porter said. “If you’re sucking smoke and you have a respiratory or other underlying issue and you’re in the smoke for days, you’re not going to be out of the smoke for many more days so find a way out, go to clear air.”
Evacuation orders and warnings remain in place for multiple parts of Calaveras, El Dorado, Riverside, San Diego, Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Tehama, Shasta, Kern, Siskiyou, Trinity and San Bernardino counties.
Cal Fire provides updated information about ongoing fires on its website. The agency also provides information about how to prepare for wildfires and potential fire-related evacuations.
“Every acre can and will burn someday in this state,” Porter said. “Be ready now, before there’s a warning.”