Incident Overview and News

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Local Assistance Center Opens Today in Santa Barbara

State, Local Agencies Continue Coordination of Resources for Mudslides


Fierce Santa Ana winds, combined with dry brush and dead trees, fueled the start of multiple fires in Ventura, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Riverside counties. The first of the southern California wildfires broke out on the evening of December 4, and fires continued to burn in numerous counties while ongoing dangerous weather conditions persisted. Thousands of acres burned destroying infrastructure, residences, and prompted mass evacuations. The fires closed several major highways, cancelled schools, and threatened historical landmarks.

The State Operations Center activated around the clock to coordinate resources to support the communities affected by fires. State, local and federal agencies continue to work together to support emergency management and recovery efforts.

In support of the wildfires, Oregon, Montana, Utah, Idaho, Texas, New Mexico and Washington sent engines coordinated through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) and an interstate compact to assist with state resources.

As of December 28, the largest wildfire in California history, the Thomas Fire, has destroyed 281,893 acres and is 91% contained.

Thomas Wildfire Incident Information

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Firefighters began battling multiple wildfires on October 8 in numerous counties across the entire state, prompting mass evacuations. Thousands of acres burned and threatened infrastructure as strong winds fueled the fast-moving fires, primarily in Northern California. The wildfires burned more than 245,000 acres, destroyed 8,900 structures and were responsible for 43 deaths.

Massive Fire Response and Recovery Efforts

Resources poured in to California to assist firefighting crews as they battled multiple fires throughout the state. There were more than 11,000 firefighters and nearly 500 law enforcement personnel working the deadly fires. Suppression efforts included more than 1,000 fire engines, 30 air tankers and 73 helicopters, with an additional 177 fire engines from out-of-state mutual aid.
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) coordinated the placement of evacuees in dozens of shelters across the region, while also distributing more than 40,000 meals, 60,000 liters of water, 2,000 ADA compliance cots and 12,000 blankets and sheets.

The California National Guard supported of the firefighting efforts with more than 2,000 soldiers and airmen deployed, including a 500-person infantry from Southern California. Cal Guard and the Nevada National Guard were heavily involved in the air suppression efforts with 23 aircraft offering support via firefighting, damage assessment, fire mapping and transportation. Aircraft dropped more than 800,000 gallons of water/retardant. In addition, Cal Guard also coordinated bringing in additional resources from Oregon and Nevada.

State Operations

On October 9, the State Operations Center activated to support emergency management coordination and mutual aid requests for the communities of Yuba, Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Butte, Nevada, and Solano who were impacted by the Northern California wildfires.

The Inland, Coastal and Southern Regional Operations Centers also activated to support impacted communities.

Cal Guard mobilized to support disaster response and/or relief efforts. To assist local governments and for the protection of public health and the environment, state agencies shall enter into contracts to arrange for the procurement of materials, goods, and services necessary to quickly assist with the response to and recovery from the impacts of these fires. Applicable provisions of the Government Code and the Public Contract Code, including but not limited to travel, advertising, and competitive bidding requirements, are suspended to the extent necessary to address the effects of the fires.

Governor’s Statement on Presidential Declaration

On October 10, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster assistance was made available to the state of California to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by wildfires from October 8, 2017, and continuing.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued the following statement after the White House approved the gubernatorial request for federal assistance to help with the impacts of wildfires burning in Northern California: “The Federal Emergency Management Agency has responded promptly to assist California in fighting these terrible fires. I appreciate the fast response from the President.”

Emergency Proclamations and Declarations

On October 10, Governor Brown issued an emergency proclamation for Solano County due to the effects of the Atlas Fire, which damaged critical infrastructure, threatened homes and caused the evacuation of residents. On October 9, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued an emergency proclamation for eight counties – Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada and Orange – due to the effects of multiple fires causing damage to critical infrastructure, threatening homes and causing the evacuation of residents. The proclamation allows all state agencies to use and employ state personnel, equipment and facilities for response and recovery efforts.


Latest news from Cal OES on the Newsroom Blog
Be sure to check out our blog for more coverage on the ongoing wildfires, including videos, news releases and exclusive stories.

Understanding Individual Assistance and Public Assistance
The Federal Emergency Management Agency may provide two types of assistance, following natural disasters with a presidential disaster declaration: Individual Assistance and Public Assistance. Understanding Individual Assistance and Public Assistance – En Español

After the Fire: Advice for Salvaging Damaged Family Treasures
When evacuating, never risk your personal safety to save belongings. When returning after a fire, wear protective clothing and eyewear to handle items. Hazardous particles may still be in the air and structures will likely be unstable.  FEMA has additional tips and resources to salvage personal items that have survived fires.

National Wildfire Coordinating Group Map
Check fire conditions where you live

How Does This Wildfire Season Compare?
California has endured some of the worst wildfires in United States history. Find out from CAL FIRE how this wildfire disaster compares to other major incidents.

California Wildfires Create New Danger: Hazardous Debris 
Statewide wildfires that scarred communities across Northern and Southern California now pose a new threat. As changing weather patterns and tireless work of more than 11,000 firefighters boost containment lines, communities devastated by the fires face potential health risks associated with the improper handling of fire debris.

Governor Brown Issues Executive Order to Help Cut Red Tape, Expedite Recovery Efforts in Communities Impacted by Wildfires
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order to cut red tape and help streamline recovery efforts in communities impacted by the devastating wildfires that have burned across California over the past ten days.

State Health Officer Urges Caution During Wildfire Cleanup
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today advised residents of recently burned areas to use caution in cleaning up ash from recent wildfires. (en español)