Despite unprecedented preparations, full fire water tanks and lightning-fast response from firefighters, this year's fire season is surpassing that of recent years.

To prevent a disaster, everyone has their hands full, including the vigilant public.

That was the main theme of an hour-long press conference this morning in Sacramento, attended by Governor Gavin Newsom and state emergency officials.

CalFire Director Joe Tyler said the high temperatures brought new challenges and, fortunately, despite larger fires, casualties have been minimal. “Although the areas are large, there are currently no fatalities and few buildings damaged or destroyed. The fact that the vegetation burned so quickly is mainly due to the heat, the drying out of the fuels and the associated winds,” Tyler said.

In addition to urging residents to create defensible areas and properly use spark-prone power tools such as lawn mowers and grinders,

Tyler said ordinary Californians need to do their part.

“Create a wildfire action plan that includes escape routes, meeting places, animal precautions, and a communication plan with your family. Heed the instructions of police and our firefighters regarding evacuation warnings and orders,” Tyler added.

Tyler said California has seen 44 new fires in the past 24 hours and more than 200,000 acres of land have burned so far this year.

In comparison, there were fewer than 10,000 in the same period last year.

That was a point Newsom made clear. “We are already seeing a disproportionate number of acres burned. It's not the fires that have started, it's the number of acres burned,” the governor said.

Newsom praised lawmakers for heeding repeated calls to hire more firefighters. Referring to the period before the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest in state history, he said, “In July 2018, we had about 6,700 CalFire employees, so we had about 6,700. Today, we have 9,700 CalFire employees,” Newsom added.

Newsom said lawmakers have approved plans to hire an additional 2,400 CalFire employees over the next five years.

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