By Assemblymember Marie Waldron
Over the past few years, the Ceder, Witch, Cocos, Guejito, Paradise and Lilac fires have taught us a lot. The need to be proactive is critical. That’s why I introduced Assembly Bill 19, for fire prevention and roadway vegetation management.
Auto-related wildfires are a major problem in California. In 2016 and 2017, almost 25% of local wildfires were vehicle-related. The seventh most destructive fire in state history, last year’s Carr Fire in Northern California, killed eight people, burned over 229,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,500 structures. The fire started when sparks caused by a flat tire ignited brush along the highway.
We can prevent many of these fires by eliminating the fuel source. AB 19 will establish a General Fund grant program to help county road maintenance departments and local fire districts purchase vegetation management equipment to mow brush along county-maintained streets and roads within High Fire Hazard Severity Zones.
Poor vehicle maintenance, a falling catalytic converter, dragging metal, sparks from flat tires or simply pulling over to the side of the road can ignite dry brush. These sorts of vehicle mishaps probably can’t be prevented, but fires can be prevented by simply clearing the brush.
AB 19 will help local agencies purchase equipment they need to prevent nearly one quarter of all wildfires. The bill is supported by a growing list of Fire Districts including the North County Fire Protection District, The Valley Center Fire Protection District, the Bonita – Sunnyside fire Protection District, along with statewide agencies such as the California Forestry Association, Rural Counties Association and Cal Fire Chiefs.
The heavy rain we had also means more dry fuel along our roadways this summer. With AB 19, we can significantly reduce wildfires in our state and region.
Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.