Jerry Brown at Thomas Fire
Gov. Jerry Brown surveys damage from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. Courtesy Governor’s Press Office

Gov. Jerry Brown warned of a “new reality” in the state Saturday and said some scientists think the Southland is literally “burning up” due to climate change.

Brown traveled to the Ventura County Fairgrounds with other state officials to address the continuing concern about wildfires that continue to burn from Santa Barbara to San Diego, including the Creek, Rye and Skirball fires in Los Angeles County and the Liberty Fire in Riverside County.

Brown claimed climate change was a factor in the number and intensity of wildfires. “This (the fires) has been a terrible tragedy for so many people. This (these fires) is kind of the new normal. We’re facing a new reality in this state where fires threatens people’s lives, their property, their neighborhoods. We know from changing climate that its (fires) are going to exacerbate everything else.”

He noted some scientists are saying Southern California is literally burning up. “Burning up may be a metaphor or description that matches to the fires right here, but what we can expect in the next years, the next decades.

“In the longer term, I think we have to think through how are we going to adjust ourselves to nature as it changes,” Brown said. “We can’t expect nature to adjust to our needs.”

Other officials said the winds that have driven the six major wildfires in Southern California are expected to continue into next week.

“The winds, as you know, continue to be a concern,’ California Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci said. “And we have been working closely to try push out preparedness information to the public just to be aware that these winds do exist and that means fire danger remains high.”

Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said this was “A forecasted wind event.”

“And Southern California is no stranger to sundowners or Santa Ana offshore wind events. Absolutely strong and intense winds in all of the seven counties impacted. The winds will continue to be strong and dry well through Sunday and even into next week, we’ll have dry conditions across the Southland. We need to continue to keep our guard up. This is the challenge that we face in California.”

“Sundowners” are cooler strong winds that blow near the end of daylight hours

Cal Fire reported that six fires have burned 175,000 acres of land, destroyed 793 structures and threatened another 25,000 structures, with 90,000 civilians evacuated and 8,500 firefighters working to control the flames.

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