Gov. Newsom, fire officials discuss plan to prevent East Bay wildfires

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Governor Gavin Newsom was in the East Bay on Tuesday to show unity with local fire crews and officials ahead of fire season.

"The purpose of today is to highlight a project that starts here in Tilden and goes all the way down to Walnut Creek," Gov. Newsom said.

That project will address the vulnerabilities of areas that live on a wildland/urban interface, many of them in the Bay Area.

"When people think of Oakland, they don't think of wilderness, yet we are one of the highest-risk areas for that wildfire threat," Mayor Libby Schaaf said.

An area stretching from the Berkeley Hills to just north of Lafayette has been sectioned off into 10 parts called the North Orinda Fuel Break.

"We're looking at a fuel break option where we limb up and remove fuel that's dead and dying on the ground," said Cal Fire Chief Jake Hess. "We have a broadcast component where we will safely remove fuel in an area and create a firebreak."

While crews on the ground do their jobs, another essential part of fire prevention is the residents themselves.

That means no untrimmed grass, landscaping around houses, installing a new roof and just general maintenance.

"We've cleaned up the yard and so there's no brush close to the house," Berkeley resident Misty Mullhell said. "People kind of look out for each other here, which is a blessing."

"Hardening one's structures, taking into account our own individual responsibilities not just the collective responsibility is another important message we must communicate," Gov. Newsom said.

There has been $108 million earmarked for Blackhawk helicopters that will allow fire crews to fight fire at night. A fleet of new equipment is also being rolled out this year.
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