Governor Gavin Newsom and state fire officials marked the end of peak fire season in most areas of California on Thursday.
Wildfires are now a year-round concern, but we’ve seen a relatively quiet fire year so far.
Governor Newsom announced the end of peak fire season at a press conference in Napa County.
He says added resources and cooperation from mother nature prevented widespread devastation this year.
The 2022 fire season has been far less destructive than 2021, or the record-shattering 2020 season which saw more than 4 million acres burn across California.
Governor Newsom says this year saw a similar number of fires compared to 2021, but far fewer acres burned.
“We are mindful that we are not out of the woods, so we are not here with any signs “mission accomplished” in any way, shape, or form—but we are here to highlight the work that has been done this year.”
According to Cal Fire, more than 362,000 acres have burned across California this year and 876 buildings were destroyed.
Compare that to 2021 when fires consumed nearly 2.5 million acres, destroying more than 3,500 buildings.
That year, the Dixie Fire in Northern California alone burned nearly 1 million acres.
“Frankly, I think we got a little bit lucky this summer that we had some factors that kept the entire state from blowing up like it has the last several years,” said Cal Poly fire behavior expert Chris Dicus.
Fewer fires meant that agencies like Cal Fire weren’t completely overwhelmed-- allowing for a quicker response while freeing up resources for an aggressive air attack.
“Probably the most important thing is we didn’t get any ignitions during extreme weather events, and I think that is what really saved us this year,” said Dicus.
The Central Coast saw fast-moving fires this year, but they were quickly brought under control.
“The fact that it was just a handful, and it wasn’t something that affected people for weeks upon weeks and kept them out of their homes—so, everybody’s doing their part,” said Cal Fire SLO spokesperson Toni Davis.
Fire crews are now shifting to fuel reduction and fire prevention at a time when they’re usually still battling fires.
“We recognize that we have not made up for 100 years of neglect in that space--and yes, before you point out the obvious, let me state the obvious: we have a lot more work to do,” said Governor Newsom, adding that Cal Fire has already met its goal of treating 100,000 acres of land a year.
California has earmarked funding for more than 1300 new firefighting and prevention positions next year.