Catastrophic Fires, Lessons Learned: Preparation, Prevention, Response and Recovery


Catastrophic Fires, Lessons Learned: Preparation, Prevention, Response and Recovery

Ten of the most destructive fires in California history have occurred since 2013 and, of those, eight have occurred in Northern California. Not only is the rate of catastrophic fire increasing, but the size and cost in life and structures lost has also increased – with 141 deaths, loss of over 31,000 structures and over 1 million acres burned. The most recent catastrophic fire in November of 2018, the Camp Fire, killed 86 people and destroyed over 18,000 structures with 156,000 acres consumed. These events have come with significant cost – in life, property, forest acreage, firefighting costs and emotional trauma.

Using funding allocated through Proposition 1 Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Disadvantaged Community Involvement Program (DACIP), the Sacramento River Funding Area (SRFA) DACIP Project Team will be conducting a pilot project aimed at leveraging the lessons learned from the recent fires. The SRFA “Catastrophic Fires, Lessons Learned: Preparation, Prevention, Response and Recovery” project will be implemented in 2019.

January – April 2019
The initial work effort involves in-depth interviews with agencies and organizations in the four counties within the SRFA most heavily impacted in recent years: Butte (Camp Fire), Shasta (Carr Fire), Lake (Valley Fire) and Sonoma (Atlas Fire). It is expected that 30 – 40 people, directly involved in the fire suppression and recovery effort, as well as pre-event emergency planning, will be interviewed in a sit-down, face-to-face forum. The questions to be posed during these interviews are:

  1. If you knew fire was coming a year in advance, what would you do differently?
  2. What are the key lessons learned from the most recent event?
  3. How is your recovery progressing?
  4. What are your recommendations and desired outcomes for a NorCal workshop to move “Preparation, Prevention, Response, Recovery” forward across the region?

A Summary Report will be prepared that presents the outcomes of the interviews by county, as well as a list of Lessons Learned that emerge from these interviews.

April – October 2019
A small advisory group will be created to determine next steps. This may include development of a Workshop/Conference within the SRFA which takes the Summary Report of Lessons Learned and converts the Report into a formal list of Recommendations to be presented to the State – in support of Governor Newsom’s recently announced Fire Prevention initiative.

Check back on this webpage for more details and materials as the planning process for the SRFA Fire Preparedness pilot project unfolds!