BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — It’s no secret that California is facing the most destructive wildfire season in history. Wildfires have burned more than four million acres in the state this year, more than double the record set in 2018. Heat waves contributed to multiple wildfires in the summer, but temperature isn’t the reason we’re seeing them now. This comes after a long, dry summer.
“The heat isn’t the issue right now,” said Andrew Freeborn, the Public Information Officer for the Kern County Fire Department. “A fire that starts now with these winds has the potential to spread so fast. The vegetation, the brush, the trees, they’ve had all summer to dry out. It’s ready to ignite. Now you have the mixture of a potentially destructive fire, if one were to break out.”
That’s why large parts of Kern County have red flag warnings, meaning an elevated risk of fires, even in December. This forces first responders to battle wildfire season year round. Firefighters say the best way to stay safe is to stay prepared with essentials like food, water and a change of clothes in case you see an evacuation warning. But that’s not all you should prepare.
“Are there certain medications I would need to take with me?” said Freeborn. Are there certain documents? Am I going to keep a small amount of cash available? Individuals with special needs, is there something specifically that we need to take for them, or our pets?”
The windy fire conditions also motived the Pacific Gas and Electric Company to shut off power for about 600 customers in Kern County last night. The company released a statement saying that power was restored for nearly all customers in Kern County at 5 p.m.
Power shutoffs help prevent blazes like the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in state history, which killed 86 people. Pacific Gas and Electric says you should make a plan in case your power goes out.
“We want them to have non-perishable food items as well as water bottles in the freezer that they can utilize to keep food cold,” said Katie Allen, a Public Information Officer for Pacific Gas and Electric Company. “Extra batteries for a flashlight, also make sure all your medications are available. Also your pets, make sure they are taken care of.”
The Kern County Fire Department and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company say strong planning can keep your family safe during wildfire season. You can check either of their websites for the latest information and for more tips to prepare.