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California fire chief: State must adapt to new wildfire norm

December 11, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s top firefighter says the state’s increasingly deadly and destructive wildfires have become so unpredictable that government officials should consider banning home construction in vulnerable areas.

Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott leaves his job Friday after 30 years with the agency.

He tells The Associated Press that government and residents must act differently to protect lives and property from fires that now routinely threaten large populations.

That may mean rethinking subdivisions in thickly forested areas or homes along Southern California canyons lined with tinder-dry chaparral.

Residents should train themselves to respond more quickly to warnings and be prepared to shelter in place if they can’t outrun the flames.

Communities should prepare commercial or public buildings as fire evacuation centers with the expectation hundreds may shelter there.

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