Contra Costa County hears from emergency officials on summer fire preparations – NBC Bay Area
The Contra Costa County Supervisory Board will hear on Tuesday how the Bay Area’s third-largest county is prepared for what experts say could be one of the worst fire seasons in state history.
Members of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Emergency Services Office and Contra Costa County Fire Protection District will make presentations to the Board of Directors at its regular meeting on June 8.
A dry winter, years of record temperatures thanks to climate change and a series of record fire seasons all point to a difficult year 2021. State reservoirs are dwindling and water agencies are already implementing conservation measures.
The state has already seen 900 more fires than at the same time last year, when it broke previous records for total area burned. Over 4% of California burned down last year. Many California firefighting agencies began hiring summer staff on June 1, a month earlier than normal.
Contra Costa’s Director of Emergency Services, Rick Kovar, will discuss how the events of the past year – including the pandemic, power outages for public safety, civil unrest and major fires in the ‘last year – will affect the county’s preparation this year.
According to a staff report, Kovar will also cover shelter operations and adjusted response time during what looks like phases of COVID-19 decline. He will also discuss plans to handle multiple events at the same time and the county’s new emergency operations center.
The report includes a “what to expect” section, stating that based on weather reports, the county will likely experience a “hot, dry summer with red flag warnings already in play. Wildfires. PG&E PSPS (cuts power supply for public safety) events and potentials for brownouts, smoke / bad air from forest fires. Limited water resources in specific locations as drought progresses. ”
The report also states that previous experience indicates that additional water rationing may be needed, and that large landowners and livestock owners “can ask for help.” Power outages can affect cell phone towers and COVID-19 will always be a factor.
Deputy Fire Chief Aaron McAlister will brief the council on how the council is preparing, including training, trail maintenance, weed control and law enforcement, coordination with other agencies and live fire training. It will also review the county’s most dangerous fire areas, resources, and the threat of illegal fireworks.
The council will also hear from Brian Garcia, a meteorologist responsible for coordinating warnings from the National Weather Service.
As planning and training continues, county residents can sign up for community warning alerts at https://cwsalerts.com/. More information can be found on many local government websites, including cocosheriff.org and cccfpd.org.
The Contra Costa County Supervisory Board is meeting virtually at 9 a.m. Tuesday, at https://www.contracosta.ca.gov/.