In the past few weeks, the deadliest domestic wildfires in more than a century have devastated Maui, Hawaii. As of August 18, 2023, at least 111 people have died, and another 1,000 people remain unaccounted for. Thousands of buildings, mostly homes, have been destroyed. Insured property losses have climbed to over three billion dollars.
Due to the planet’s warming, the risk of such wildfires will grow higher, including in Los Angeles. In California, nine of the 20 largest wildfires ever recorded have occurred in the last three years, costing tens of billions of dollars in damages and hundreds of lives. Despite this past year’s extensive rain, just last month, three brush fires burned hundreds of acres in Southern California, including in north Los Angeles County.
Although the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), the Emergency Management Department (EMD) and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) have done much to prepare for such a scenario, the City should consider what more can be done, especially in the City’s hillside areas with very little ingress and egress.
In addition, the public needs to understand how Los Angeles residents can help prevent such fires, and how best to protect themselves in the event of such fires. Further outreach efforts must be made so the public can quickly respond to potential emergency situations.
I THEREFORE MOVE that LAFD, EMD and LAPD be instructed to report to the Council on the following matters:
- What measures the City has taken to reduce the risk of rapidly spreading wildfires;
- What measures are in place to ensure a rapid response that will reduce the impact of such a fire if it does occur;
- What additional resources and actions are needed to better prepare the City for such an occurrence;
- What members of the public need to know to promote their own safety in such an event;
- Recommendations on better informing the public on these issues and improving the public’s safety against the risks of wildfire.