California Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday signed into law nearly 22 measures aimed at preventing and fighting wildfires, which have caused tremendous damage and loss of life in the state in recent years.
The bills were based on key recommendations from a state task force. California already has a billion dollars allocated in the state budget for preparing and responding to wildfires and other emergencies.
Last year’s fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills destroyed 14,000 homes and killed 85 people, most of them in the town of Paradise. The fire was blamed on faulty equipment owned by Pacific Gas & Electric.
Some of the bills direct communities to adopt standards that will improve the fire resistance of buildings and surrounding vegetation.
Others require utilities to shut off power when there’s an increased risk of electric line-sparked fires.
Utilities were targeted by a law passed earlier this year; one that mandates them to enact billions in safety improvements and standards and to establish a fund for victims.