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Cooper Hefner Statement on Record Breaking California Fires

08•24•2020
  • Statement

Our California communities are once again being ravaged by fires. Emergency responders are currently fighting over 600 fires across the state. Thousands of Californians are under evacuation notice, over 1 million acres of land have been devastated by the blazes, and lives have tragically been lost. My heart is with the communities reeling at the loss of loved ones. This is a painful time for what has unfortunately already been an incredibly painful year for so many. This is a horrific human tragedy and one that will take years to recover from.

My gratitude and appreciation goes out to all the firefighters and frontline emergency workers who are giving their all to combat these fires and keep our state safe.

Numerous reports from local fire departments make clear that they have not been given the support that they need to fight the fires that threaten their community. CalFire has been underfunded and short of staff and that decision by lawmakers is now having damaging repercussions. The billions of dollars in damage that uncontrolled fires have on businesses, homes, and commerce are a far higher cost than what it would take to appropriately fund firefighting capacity in the state. A substantial effort needs to be made at the state level to increase funding and expand the state’s firefighting efforts. However, California also needs the support of Congress and the federal government in order to be successful, particularly given the budgetary shortfalls caused by the pandemic. California is a key component of the economic engine of our country. To underfund fire prevention and firefighting efforts is incredibly shortsighted and costs lives.

There is no fire season in California anymore. We must do all we can to adjust to the reality of consistent fire threat and work to combat the conditions that create these catastrophic natural disasters. Aggressively fighting climate change, prioritizing forest management, and increasing firefighting capacity are all significant components of a better strategy for fire management, all of which I will fight for as a member of the California Senate.