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Gov. Newsom Looking For Innovative Ways To Prevent Wildfires From Becoming Conflagration

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at the Near Future Summit in La Jolla on May 10, 201...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at the Near Future Summit in La Jolla on May 10, 2019, about how technology and innovation can help reshape wildfire safety.

Recent wildfires have devastated the state and Gov. Gavin Newsom is looking for ways to help stop wildfires faster.

Newsom was at the Near Future Summit in La Jolla on Friday to push for the idea of an “XPrize” competition for the best ways to put out fires.

“It’s like 'What the hell are we going to do?' And we’re just a few weeks away from entering another fire season,” he said.

The summit is an annual event that brings hundreds of inventors, entrepreneurs to address some of the world’s biggest problems.

“The concept is a fire detection and extinction XPrize, can we find it and put it out before it grows?” said Peter Diamandis, XPrize founder and executive chairman. “How it gets put out. Is it drones? Is it water cannons? Who knows?”

Reported by Matthew Hoffman

Newsom says one of the benefits of an “XPrize” competition is there are no public dollars at stake as all money for the competition comes from private donors. Newsom said the state may adopt the winning team’s fire suppression strategy.

“I just think we haven’t pushed the boundaries of technology and innovation in the fire suppression and extinguishing space — we just haven’t,” Newsom said.

Climate change, the governor said, has made recent fires especially dangerous. He also took a jab at President Donald Trump, who suggested that California’s forest management was the cause for the recent wildfires.

“Some people may disagree think global warming is a hoax and climate change is made up and it’s some liberal fantasy and some conspiracy — but something ain't right,” Newsom said. “As it relates to these wildfires, it’s not poor management. With all due respect, a lot of these fires are not wildfires. Ask the folks up in Malibu. There’s not huge forests there. A lot of these are vegetation fires because the hots are getting a lot hotter and the drys are getting a lot dryer.”

In the last two years, 139 people have lost their lives to 16,600 wildfires and more than 32,000 homes and businesses were destroyed, the governor said.


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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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