September 13, 2020

Readout of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris’s Call with Mark Ghilarducci, Director of Cal OES about California Wildfires

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) on Sunday held a call to discuss California’s response to the current wildfire crisis. Senator Harris’s call with Director Ghilarducci is the latest in a series of conversations with state leaders concerning this year’s devastating fire season. This week, Senator Harris also spoke with California Governor Gavin Newsom. 

“California has been devastated by wildfires that have claimed precious lives, destroyed communities, and forced thousands of Californians to evacuate in the midst of a pandemic. We owe a debt of gratitude to the brave firefighters working around the clock to protect us,” said Senator Kamala Harris. “Let’s be clear: these wildfires are a result of the climate crisis and we must take action that meets the needs of this moment.”

Director Ghilarducci briefed Senator Harris on the historic major fires currently burning in California and what steps are being taken to contain them. Director Ghilarducci shared how California is coordinating emergency services during this wildfire season in order to minimize the danger posed to people and property.

Senator Harris thanked Director Ghilarducci for his work and discussed the importance of ensuring federal support for California. Senator Harris voiced her ongoing concerns about the compounding dangers of COVID-19 & wildfire season, and reaffirmed her commitment to help in any way possible.

Director Ghilarducci and Senator Harris agreed to have frequent discussions about what steps are being taken to protect Californians as they face the threats of fires and COVID-19. They vowed to continue to find ways to work together going forward.

In 2018, Senator Harris helped secure a wildfire funding fix to ensure that the U.S. Forest Service can use its funding to better manage forests. She also introduced the Wildfire Defense Act, legislation to provide grants communities to comprehensively plan for wildfires and build community wildfire resilience. Since March, Senator Harris has raised questions with FEMA about wildfire preparedness during the pandemic through oversight hearings, calls, and letters.