Bay Area innovators and experts in wildfire resilience spoke with state Sen. Josh Becker in an online town hall “Fight Fire with Tech” June 29 to discuss integrating technology solutions as California faces another wildfire season.

“Wildfire season is now two months or more longer than it even was just a few years ago,” Becker, D-San Mateo, said.

Last year, 4.2 million acres burned, five of the six largest fires in state history burned simultaneously.

“Every year, the risks of serious wildfires seem to increase. And this year, with temperatures reaching terrifyingly high heights like we’ve seen recently, we need to be as prepared as possible,” Assemblymember Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, said.

In 2018, California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment predicted there would be a 77% increase in acres burned by the end of the century. And there was a 1,500% increase in acres burned last year.

“So that prediction came through 80 years early,” Jessica Morse, deputy secretary for the Forest and Wildfire Resilience at the California Natural Resources Agency, said. “This is the confluence of climate change, which is a planetary impact, and also multiple generations of fire suppression and policy decisions that have led us to this point today.”

Jonathan Cox, deputy chief of the San Mateo County division of Cal Fire, said his division is using technology such as real-time data analysis, intel and rates of spread, and new technology such as drones and unmanned aerial systems as it hopes to fight these fires faster and warn people in advance.

“One of the most striking statistics for me that came out of last year was in one 24-hour period, more acres of the Santa Cruz Mountains were consumed by fire than the last hundred years combined,” Cox said, referring to the CZU Lightning Complex fires.

Read more on this story at the SM Daily Journal