The New Abnormal: A Town Hall on California’s Fires and the Future

Wildfires have always been part of life for the state of California. However, in the past year the state has seen 7 of its 20 most destructive wildfires ever, including the recent Camp Fire in Butte County, which directly impacted the Bay Area for days, and the Woolsey Fire in Malibu outside of Los Angeles. Combined, both fires cost hundreds of lives and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Coming one year after last year's Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, it is clear that the state has reached a new abnormal and is at a critical juncture in how it plans and prepares for the inevitability of future fires—ones that could be more destructive and costly than what we have already faced. But what is causing these fires? What can be done to improve preparation and fighting them, and who is responsible for doing it? 

To address some of these critical and urgent questions, please join The Commonwealth Club for a special free town hall on California's fires and what can be done in the short and long term to prepare for them. The Club has invited some of the region's leading wildfire experts for an essential and honest discussion about the new abnormal and the pressing need to better prepare for the future. The town hall will also address how technology is shaping fire prevention and firefighting. Guests are invited to participate and share their experiences, thoughts and recommendations. Some of the state's top fire experts will also be seated in the audience.  

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J. Keith Gilles

Chair, California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection; Professor of Forest Economics, UC Berkeley

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Thom Porter

Chief of Strategic Planning, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)

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Kurtis Alexander

Water, Wildfire and Climate Writer, San Francisco Chronicle

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Maggi Kelly

Professor and Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Environmental Science, Policy and Management Department, UC Berkeley

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Greg Dalton

Founder and Host, Climate One—Moderator