Governor Jerry Brown and state emergency officials visited Ventura Saturday afternoon to deliver statewide fire statistics and what was hardly a pep talk from the governor to the assembled firefighters, law enforcement, and media. Though he thanked firefighters and law enforcement for “doing a great job” and empathized with the horror people were going through, Brown’s main pitch was that a hot, dry fire season extending into Christmas was the “new normal.” His mind was on climate change, and as he stepped away from the microphone, he could be heard saying he was going to Paris next to talk some more about the changing climate.
In California, Brown said, with its historically lengthy droughts, climate change was an exacerbating factor for fire. What Ventura was experiencing today is what we can all expect on a regular basis. “We can’t expect nature to adjust to our needs,” said Brown. “We need to adjust ourselves to nature.” There was a box in his office, he said, full of California’s building code. He’d seen how some houses burned while others nearby did not: “We don’t know why … but people should have a lot of information on the best way to build and rebuild.”
Brown also regretted that the carbon put into the air by the fires was offsetting the “hard-won greenhouse gas reductions” California had achieved. But climate change was a global problem, he said, and heroic efforts were needed. Brown threw a sharp political elbow at Washington, D.C., stating the disasters in California, Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico were taking “tens and tens of billions we could have spent on roads and bridges. Now we have to clean up the mess and spend money and still give tax breaks.”
Mutual aid had brought more than 435 fire departments to the Thomas Fire, enumerated the head of the state Office of Emergency Services, Mike Ghilarducci, with seven Western states sending personnel as well. More than 120 National Guardsmen were supporting local law enforcement, and two firefighting C-130s had been stationed near Oxnard. Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said nearly 27,000 acres had been consumed by five large SoCal fires, with the Thomas Fire at 148,000 acres and 15 percent contained. The winds were variable, and strong and dry through next week, he said. “Keep your guard up.”