'We gotta step up our game, get our act together': Governor Newsom declares a state of emergency because of the increased risk of wildfire

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- "We gotta step up our game. Get our act together," said California Governor Gavin Newsom. On Friday, Governor Newsom toured Middletown in Lake County, where people can still turn anywhere and find remnants of the Valley Fire.

Sixty percent of the land in the county has burned since 2015.

"We asked him to come back, and today he proved he is a man of his word and followed through on that," said Supervisor Moke Simon.

RELATED: California Gov. Gavin Newsom to waive environmental rules for fire season prep

When the governor returned on Friday, he brought along a proclamation of emergency in advance of the coming fire season. He has ordered fire prevention measures bypassing bureaucracy, and waved environmental rules that would slow down the process.

"Some of these projects could take two years, or we can do them in two months," Governor Newsom said.

The executive order will speed tree clearing and forest management in 35 areas in and around some 2.2 million homes in communities bordering wildlands.

The Bay Area will have four of the projects, totaling about three thousand acres in the East Bay, Peninsula, and Santa Clara County.

The largest is "the North Orinda fuel break" in the Briones Water Shed. CAL FIRE says it will help protect 62,000 people from Berkeley through Orinda and Lafayette to Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek.

You will see in the video above, Sky7 uses SkyMap7 to show us what that area looks like, centered along Bear Creek Road. Crews will clear brush and expand existing fire trails to slow the spread of any big fire, and make it easier for residents to evacuate.

In San Mateo County, the Kings Mountain Roadside project will clear trees infected with Sudden Oak Death Syndrome. CAL FIRE says it will protect homes and Highway 35 in the Woodside area.

The El Granada Quarry Park area is full of unhealthy eucalyptus, threatening hundreds of homes around the town of El Granada.

And in the South Bay, the Highway 17 Fuel break will clear flammable brush and protect the towns of Saratoga, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Scotts Valley.

"Of the 35 projects, every one of them is seen as equally important, and we are going to take action in every one of them immediately," said Thom Porter, Chief of CAL FIRE.

"2017 was the worst fire season in California's history until 2018. We cannot allow 2019 to maintain that status. We gotta do more, we gotta do better. Today, we have to get that done," said Governor Newsom.

In 2018, 1.9 million acres burned in California 20,000 buildings were destroyed, and 100 people deceased.

The goal is to get all of this work finished before the start of fire season within two months.
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