California on the Road to Recovery After the Most Active Wildfire Season in State History

Episode #19
02.24.2021

The state of California continues recovery efforts from a historic wildfire season which included some of the largest fires (in acreage burned) in state — second only to the COVID-19 pandemic for worst disasters of the year. By the end of December, over 9,000 fires burned nearly 4.4 million acres, or about 4% of the state’s approximate 100 million acres of land. The August Complex Fire has been classified as the first “gigafire”- burning over 1 million acres across seven counties. It was one of several large-scale fires and ranked as the Top 5 of the 6 largest fires in California’s recorded wildfire history.

Topics Covered

  • The August Complex Fire has been classified as the first “gigafire”- burning over 1 million acres across seven counties. It was one of several large-scale fires and ranked as the Top 5 of the 6 largest fires in California’s recorded wildfire history.
  • Since August of last year, California has received 19 fire management assistance grants approved for 25 counties.
  • The year’s season was forecasted early in 2020 to be severe after an extremely dry January and February, which set the stage for a catastrophic season when extreme heat and high winds fueled hundreds of fires across the state in August and September.
  • Due to the nature of ongoing events that California has faced over the last several years, the state continues to evolve around the phases of emergency from Recovery to Preparedness to Mitigation back to Response and Recovery
  • The wildfires may be over, but now California is looking ahead to the next threats. The large burn scars could produce dangerous mud slides if heavy rains come through the rainy season. The state has been working closely with cities and counties throughout our Watershed Task Force to map out the possible threats and areas of risk where mudflows could be likely.

Key Takeaways

  • [00:20] Introduction
  • [01:25] How is California progressing since the wildfires from last season?
  • [05:50] There seems to be repeated historic and significant fire seasons each year, what is California doing to mitigate against future impacts from fires?
  • [13:00] What about the threats of mudslides in the areas burned by the fires, with the rainy season now here, what is California doing to prepare for those potential threats?
  • [16:20] You mentioned impacts from COVID-19, what is your organization doing to support the state’s response to the pandemic?
  • [20:00] Tell us how CAL OES is supporting the LISTOS program and why its important?
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Guests

Ryan Buras, was appointed deputy director of recovery operations in the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in 2019. Buras was the previous director of the National Qualification System in the National Integration Center at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, since 2017, where he has served in several positions since 2005, including senior advisor in the Office of Recovery Public Assistance and acting executive officer of the Office of Response and Recovery. 

Host

Greg Padgett
Greg Padgett
Media & Communications Strategist

Greg Padgett is the host of Disaster Recovery Roundtable and brings 25 years' experience as a journalist, emergency manager, crisis communicator, and host. From 1991 to 2001, he was a journalist and meteorologist with several TV stations across the southeast U.S. He holds the American Meteorological Society's and National Weather Association's Broadcast Seals of Approval. He previously served as Natural Hazards Program Manager for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, overseeing the development of the state's hurricane, severe weather, flood, and earthquake response plans. He has organized statewide media tours, supported public information officer training, and provided technical assistance in developing response plans and Whole Community preparedness campaigns for local jurisdictions. He also served as an on-air meteorologist for the Weather Channel's Radio Network from 2002 to 2007. He is a past recipient of the National Weather Association's Broadcaster of the Year award.