(TNS) - The Thomas fire that roared through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in December broke records, becoming the state’s largest wildfire in recorded history. But not for long. This month, the Mendocino Complex fire in Northern California broke a record for acres burned. Will the record be broken in another few months or sometime next year? It seems possible, given what fire officials and state leaders say about California’s heightened wildfire risk because of the effects of climate change.
“This is part of a trend, a new normal, that we’ve got to deal with,” Gov. Jerry Brown said at a news conference with fire officials last week. To that end, he added, the state needs to reexamine how it manages forests, where and how it builds houses and how much to invest in fire protection services.
California’s lawmakers have started grappling with some of these issues. They’re considering how much of the cost of fires sparked by electrical equipment should be paid by taxpayers and how much by utility companies; they’ve proposed stepped-up removal of the 129 million dead trees that fuel big wildfires. Earlier this year, the governor added nearly $100 million extra to the current budget to pay for thinning trees and for controlled burns, among other things.