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Two County Residents Appointed to State Wildfire Safety Advisory Board

Three firefighters brace themselves from explosive heat coming from a burning...

Photo by Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press

Above: Three firefighters brace themselves from explosive heat coming from a burning home in the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego, set off by a wildfire seen here in a file photo taken Monday, Oct. 22, 2007.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he appointed two San Diego County residents to the state's recently created California Wildfire Safety Advisory Board.

Newsom appointed UC San Diego researcher Jessica Block, 41, and San Diego State University adjunct professor Alexandra Syphard, 49, to the board, which also includes advisers from Castaic, San Francisco and Elk Grove.

The board, created in July with the state's passage of Assembly Bill 1054, will advise the California Public Utilities Commission's Wildfire Safety Division on improving wildfire safety and regulating safety measures taken by investor-owned utility companies like Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric.

Block, a San Diego resident, is a senior research associate at UCSD and the associate director of the university's WIFIRE Lab. She has also served as a wildfire researcher and research associate at the University of Melbourne and University of Ballarat in Australia, SDSU and Arizona State University.

Syphard, a La Mesa resident, is the chief scientist at Sage Insurance Holdings LLC in addition to being an adjunct geology professor. Until this year, she served as a senior research scientist at the Conservation Biology Institute in Encinitas.

She has also served as a postdoctoral research scientist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology's SILVIS Lab and a geographic information systems analyst for a Massachusetts-based civil engineering consulting and design firm.

Both appointees are Democrats and will not require Senate confirmation. Syphard will receive $400 per diem for serving on the board, while Block will not be compensated due to her employment by a state-run entity.

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