Californians could soon face mandatory statewide water restrictions — but likely not until the end of September, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.
The timing suggests the governor may be trying to avoid unpopular mandates before the Sept. 14 recall election — but California’s devastating drought and ever-expanding fire season have their own schedules.
Around 51,000 Californians could wake up this morning without power — a scenario Newsom undoubtedly would like to avoid as recall ballots hit voters’ mailboxes. Still, PG&E’s decision to start preemptively cutting power as humidity plummets and fierce winds buffet Northern California could help Newsom avoid an even worse situation — another massive wildfire igniting.
The governor already has plenty of crises on his hands: On Tuesday, he declared a state of emergency in El Dorado County in response to the Caldor Fire, which has surged past 30,000 acres. The blaze, which was 0% contained, has seriously injured at least two residents, who were airlifted to hospitals. It also forced thousands of evacuations and destroyed an elementary school, a church, a post office and numerous other buildings, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The images — a burned playground structure is all that remains of the elementary school — evoke the destruction of Greenville, a town leveled by the monstrous Dixie Fire. Already the second-largest blaze in state history, the Dixie Fire continues to grow, surpassing 600,000 acres Monday night. With much of the Bay Area under a red flag warning through Wednesday due to high winds, PG&E expanded its projected blackouts from 39,000 customers in 16 counties to 51,000 customers in 18 counties.
Despite the raging fires, state lawmakers canceled an oversight hearing today into wildfire prevention — and apparently have no plans to reschedule it before the legislative session ends on Sept. 10, according to Courthouse News reporter Nick Cahill. The hearing was scheduled after a blockbuster CapRadio report found Newsom overstated by 690% the amount of land treated with fuel breaks and prescribed burns to prevent wildfires from harming California’s most vulnerable communities.
- Assemblymember James Gallagher, a Yuba City Republican: “The Democrat supermajority is more interested in politics and protecting their governor than getting to the bottom of why our state is burning.”