Emergency response personnel have been working nonstop to provide wildfire relief to the areas of Northern California that have been burning since late Sunday night. Safety remains the top priority as officials wait to evaluate the overall damage caused by the fires. “We’re seeing mergers of fires, fires skipping, we’re still not in that ‘safe zone’ of even beginning to do containment, so it’s too early for assessments,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross.
The coordination between several agencies has been integral to providing some wildfire relief to the communities that have been affected. Secretary Ross expressed her gratitude for the cooperation from the California Highway Patrol and the quick response from national groups. “FEMA, the federal emergency management agency, has been embedded with our fireteam since Sunday night,” noted Secretary Ross.
It will be sometime before an accurate amount of agricultural losses caused by the wildfires can be calculated, but early estimates suggest significant damage. With close to 900 wineries in the vicinity of the fires, the wine industry will be one of the most affected sectors. Secretary Ross described how substantial the capacity for damage is, “when you think about all of those vineyards as permanent structures and the irrigation infrastructure, let alone the processing losses.”
Other farmers and ranchers are also hoping for some wildfire relief soon, as they wrestle with the logistics of protecting their animal herds. “The livestock industry has an acute issue right now, being able to move animals out, or being able to move water and food in,” Secretary Ross stated.
Crews have been fighting the 21 fires that are burning in multiple counties throughout Northern California around the clock. The National Weather Service is forecasting gusty winds and low humidity over the next couple of days, making firefighting even more difficult. The wildfires have already claimed the lives of at least 23 people and scorched over 191,000 acres, destroying more than 3,500 buildings.