California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency Sunday, as wildfires such as the Kincade Fire in Northern California and the Tick Fire in Southern California continue to ravage the state.
The Kincade Fire, burning in Sonoma County, has consumed more than 66,000 acres of land and is 5% contained as of Monday at 11:45 a.m., according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection website. Smoke from the fires created unhealthy air pollution in Berkeley on Monday, spiking above 150 on the air quality index.
“We are deploying every resource available, and are coordinating with numerous agencies as we continue to respond to these fires,” Newsom said in a press release. “It is critical that people in evacuation zones heed the warnings from officials and first responders, and have the local and state resources they need as we fight these fires.”
A new state website, response.ca.gov, was launched Monday to create a “one-stop portal” for Californians impacted by the wildfires and power shutoffs. The website will be updated to reflect the latest information and any additional resources the state may offer, according to a separate press release from Newsom’s office. Some of the information and resources provided a range of current incidents, health services, shelter and housing — as well as preparedness information and transportation impacts.
In Berkeley, forecasted heavy winds and fire danger have prompted PG&E to announce that it will need to cut power again Tuesday, and inspections of power lines are expected to begin Wednesday, according to an email sent by Jacquelyn McCormick, chief of staff for Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín. Tuesday’s planned power outage, expected to end Wednesday, will impact 605,000 PG&E customers in 29 counties, including Alameda County, according to a press release from PG&E.
A later Publish Safety Power Shutoff update from the city about 6:30 p.m. clarified that PG&E has restored power to most addresses in Berkeley, and that the city was no longer anticipating a power shutoff Tuesday.
City spokesperson Matthai Chakko said the city has been taking steps to increase preparedness in the case of wildfires, noting that Berkeley was the first city in Alameda County to conduct wildfire evacuation drills in August. Additionally, the city has developed a task force of city staff across many departments to reach out to people who have power-dependent medical or accessibility needs.
“We live in a time when this city is very interdependent on where other cities are built and where transmission lines are placed,” Chakko said. “The electrical grid demonstrates that regional decisions can have profound impacts.”
McCormick said in an email that the city’s priority has been to get people to do as much as they can to prepare.
“The more that people take independent actions to prepare themselves for power outage and wildfire evacuation, the more powerfully we can help those who are vulnerable,” McCormick said in an email.