Wildfires pose a major threat to California. Please consider the important steps below to protect you, your family, property and neighborhood.
Thank you to CAL FIRE for providing much of the helpful information below. I hope you and your family will review the information and find it useful in preparing for this year’s wildfire season.
Senator Brian Dahle, 1st Senate District
Approximately 95% of all wildfires in California are caused by human activity
that is why fire agencies need the public’s help to prevent them. Whether it’s ensuring a campfire or landscape debris burn of leaves and branches is completely extinguished, or keeping a vehicle well maintained to prevent sparks, following just a few simple steps can help prevent wildfires.
Help prevent wildfires by learning how to properly:
- Use outdoor equipment
- Burn debris
- Start, maintain, and extinguish a campfire
- Maintain a vehicle and tow safely
- Practice fire-safe target shooting
Wildfire Preparedness: Ready—Set—Go
Is your home fire-safe? Hardening your home is an important first step. There are many simple and inexpensive things you can do to lower your risk of a fire.
- Create 100 feet of defensible space around your home. Remove dry and/or dead vegetation from around your home.
- Remove piles of lumber and debris to allow better firefighter access and lessen fire damage.
- Remove dead leaves and needles from your roof and gutters.
- Review your insurance policies and take photos on your smartphone or video camera to document your belongings. Keep the video/photos outside the home.
- Create a Wildfire Action Plan that all members of your family understand, especially in more rural areas.
- Put together an emergency supply kit. Include food, water, batteries, flashlights, prescriptions, maps, and more.
- Have a family communication plan. All members of your family should know where to go if your family is evacuated.
- When you are asked to evacuate – don’t hesitate. Your life and the lives of first responders are put at greater risk when evacuation instructions are not followed.
Find more wildfire preparedness information go to https://www.readyforwildfire.org/.
Helpful Local Links
During a wildfire, it may become difficult to get the information you need. To help prepare, here are some other links you may want to know now:
- If you use a cell phone, add your cell phone to the reverse 911 dial program in your county. In an emergency, you will receive evacuation notices and instructions on your cell phone. Note: do not add land line phone numbers to the program since they can’t receive text updates.
- CAL FIRE (the state’s fire department)
- California Office of Emergency Services
- Caltrans (check local road conditions)
- California Department of Insurance
- Public Safety Power Shutoff Zip Code Alerts (pdf)
- Action News Now Fire Watch
- National Interagency Fire Center
- CA Fire Map & Tracker
- CalFire Fire Safety & Preparedness
- CA Fire Activity Map
- CBS Sacramento Fire Watch
- CalFire – General Info on Tamarack Fire
- Alpine County Tamarack Fire – Facebook Page
- Alpine County Sheriff – Facebook Page
- Alpine County Emergency Alerts
- Incident Information System – Tamarack Fire
- Hazard Mapping System – Tamarack Fire
- KCRA3 – Tamarack Fire
- Plumas County Sheriff - Facebook
- CalFire Beckwourth Complex General Information
- Plumas County Wildfire Evacuation Maps
- U.S Forest Service Plumas National Forest – Facebook
- Plumas County Fire Safe Council
- Beckwourth Complex Fire Data
- Incident Information – Juniper Fire
- CalFire Juniper General Information
- CalFire Antelope General Information
- Juniper Fire Data
Wildfire Claims and Insurance
Much of California is prone to wildfire, but few years were more devastating than 2018. The most recent estimates of insurance losses from last year’s wildfires in California has topped $12 billion. The un-insured and under-insured residents also suffered tragic losses, and it is an issue that California must work to solve.
Compounding the problem, property owners are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain sufficient insurance to help them rebuild in case of future fires. Many are faced with non-renewal notices from their insurance carriers or increasing rates that are unaffordable.
When voters approved Proposition 103 in 1988, it required insurers to file rate changes with the California Department of Insurance, which must be based on the demonstrated risk of loss. If insurers are denied rate increases, they may have no other option than to abandon high risk areas.
The law also protects homeowners in wildfire disaster areas from non-renewals for one year, and 24 months in the case of a total loss. However, as we’ve seen with some cases in total devastation areas, rebuilding has not even begun six-months after the fire. So, there is no guarantee of protection once a homeowner or business has risen from the ashes.
For those who continue to be denied insurance, one of the last options is the State’s FAIR Plan, which has a $1.5 million maximum for residential property.
We must find creative solutions to these insurance problems so Californians can continue to live in and enjoy the nature our state provides.
Moratorium Against Non-Renewal / Cancellation of Residential Property
Insurance Code Section 675.1(b)(1), as enacted by Senate Bill 824 (Lara, Chapter 616, Statutes of 2018), prohibits insurers from non-renewing or cancelling policies of residential property insurance for residential properties in ZIP Codes within or adjacent to a fire perimeter for one year following a Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency.
On July 16, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency covering the counties of Siskiyou, Plumas, and Lassen due to wildfires in those counties. The fires specifically addressed in this declaration include the Lava Fire, Dixie Fire, Sugar Fire, and the Beckwourth Complex Fire (which was a merger of the Dixie and Sugar Fires). As required by statute, the California Insurance Commissioner is coordinating with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) to identify the various fires and fire perimeters that are subject to the one-year moratorium for residential property owners. This prohibition applies to all policies of residential property insurance in effect at the time of the declared emergency. As soon as the fires are sufficiently contained and necessary data is obtained to determine the fire perimeters and which ZIP Codes are within or adjacent to the impacted fire perimeters, the California Insurance Commissioner will issue a subsequent Bulletin informing insurers of the ZIP Codes that fall within the Section 675.1(b)(1) moratorium.
In the meantime, to avoid the need to reverse any adverse policy action after the Section 675.1(b)(2) Bulletin is issued, insurers should refrain from issuing any notice of non-renewal or cancellation for any policy of residential property insurance in effect on July 16, 2021 that covers property in any known active wildfire areas in the state.
Property Tax Relief Available For Wildfire Victims
If you have been impacted by the fires in California, property tax relief is available to you. Visit the BOE’s Disaster Relief page at boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/disaster-relief.htm for more information, additional resources and answers to frequently asked questions.
Revenue and Taxation Code section 170 provides that if a calamity such as fire, earthquake, or flooding damages or destroys your property, you may be eligible for property tax relief if the county where your property is located has adopted an ordinance that allows property tax relief to owners of damaged or destroyed property, without fault from the assessee. In such cases, the county assessor will reappraise the property to reflect its damaged condition. In addition, when it is rebuilt in a like or similar manner, the property will retain its prior value (Proposition 13) for tax purposes. All California counties have adopted an ordinance for disaster relief.
To qualify for property tax relief, you must file a claim with the county assessor within the time specified in your county ordinance, or 12 months from the date of damage or destruction, whichever is later. The loss estimate must be at least $10,000 of current market value to qualify the property for this relief. The property will be reassessed according to its damaged state and property taxes will be adjusted accordingly.
This property tax relief is available to owners of real property, business equipment and fixtures, orchards or other agricultural groves, and to owners of aircraft, boats, and certain manufactured homes – it is not available to property that is not assessable, such as state licensed manufactured homes or household furnishings.
If you or someone you know needs assistance with wildfire claims or insurance non-renewal problems, please contact one of my District Offices below.
Redding District Office
Gold River District Office
Grass Valley District Office