Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an emergency proclamation for Kern County due to the effects of the Erskine Fire, which has claimed multiple lives, caused the evacuation of thousands of residents, burned thousands of acres and damaged homes and critical infrastructure.
“Anne and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to everyone impacted by this destructive blaze,” said Governor Brown. “We join all Californians in expressing our gratitude to the courageous firefighters, emergency personnel and volunteers working tirelessly throughout Kern County to help residents and extinguish this fire.”
The full text of the proclamation is below:
WHEREAS on June 23, 2016, the Erskine Fire started in Kern County, rapidly burning thousands of acres of land, and it continues to burn; and
WHEREAS a Federal Fire Management Assistance Grant has been requested and approved for the Erskine Fire burning in Kern County; and
WHEREAS this fire has destroyed over one hundred homes and continues to threaten thousands of structures, including additional homes, necessitating the evacuation of thousands of residents; and
WHEREAS this fire has damaged power lines and other critical infrastructure, continues to threaten critical infrastructure, and has forced the closure of roadways; and
WHEREAS on January 17, 2014, I declared a State of Emergency based on the extreme drought that has caused millions of trees to die, and increased the severity and spread of the fires throughout the State; and
WHEREAS the circumstances of this fire by reason of its magnitude, are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment, and facilities of any single local government and require the combined forces of a mutual aid region or regions to combat; and
WHEREAS under the provisions of section 8558(b) of the California Government Code, I find that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist in California due to this fire; and
WHEREAS under the provisions of section 8571 of the California Government Code, I find that strict compliance with various statutes and regulations specified in this order would prevent, hinder, or delay the mitigation of the effects of this fire.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, in accordance with the authority vested in me by the State Constitution and statutes, including the California Emergency Services Act, and in particular, section 8625 of the California Government Code, HEREBY PROCLAIM A STATE OF EMERGENCY to exist in Kern County.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. All agencies of the state government shall utilize and employ state personnel, equipment, and facilities for the performance of any and all activities consistent with the direction of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the State Emergency Plan. Also, all citizens are to heed the advice of emergency officials with regard to this emergency in order to protect their safety.
2. State statutes, rules, regulations and requirements are hereby suspended to the extent they apply to the following activities: (a) removal, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste and debris resulting from the wildfires that have burned and continue to burn in areas that are subject to the jurisdiction of agencies within the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Natural Resources Agency; and (b) necessary restoration and rehabilitation of streams, rivers, and other waterways. Such statutes, rules, regulations and requirements are hereby suspended only to the extent necessary for expediting the removal and cleanup of debris from the fires, and for implementing any restoration plan. Individuals who desire to conduct activities under this suspension of statutes, rules, regulations, and requirements shall first request that the appropriate Agency Secretary, or his delegate, make a determination that the proposed activities are eligible to be conducted under this suspension. The Secretary for the California Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretary for the California Natural Resources Agency shall use sound discretion in applying this order to ensure that the suspension serves the purpose of accelerating cleanup and recovery, while at the same time protecting public health and the environment. This order shall apply to, but is not necessarily limited to: solid waste facility permits; waste discharge requirements for storage and disposal; emergency timber harvesting; emergency construction activities; and waste discharge requirements and/or Water Quality Certification for discharges of fill material or pollutants. To the extent it is within their administrative authority, the boards, departments and offices within the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Natural Resources Agency shall expedite the granting of other authorizations, waivers or permits necessary for the removal, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous debris resulting from the fire, and for other actions necessary for the protection of public health and the environment.
3. As necessary to assist local governments and for the protection of public health and the environment, state agencies shall enter into contracts to arrange for the procurement of materials, goods, and services necessary to quickly remove dangerous debris, repair damaged resources, and restore and protect the impacted watershed. Applicable provisions of the Government Code and the Public Contract Code, including but not limited to travel, advertising, and competitive bidding requirements, are suspended to the extent necessary to address the effects of this fire.
4. Health and Safety Code sections 103525.5 and 103625, and Penal Code section 14251, requiring the imposition of fees, are hereby suspended with regard to any request for copies of certificates of birth, death, marriage, and dissolution of marriage records, by any individual who lost such records as a result of the fire. Such copies shall be provided without charge.
5. Vehicle Code sections 9265(a), 9867, 14901, 14902 and 15255.2, requiring the imposition of fees, are suspended with regard to any request for replacement of a driver's license, identification card, vehicle registration certificate, or certificate of title, by any individual who lost such records as a result of the fire. Such records shall be replaced without charge.
6. The provisions of Vehicle Code sections 4602 and 5902, requiring the timely registration or transfer of title, are suspended with regard to any registration or transfer of title by any residents of Kern County who are unable to comply with those requirements as a result of the fire. The time covered by this suspension shall not be included in calculating any late penalty pursuant to Vehicle Code section 9554.
7. The provisions of Unemployment Insurance Code section 1253 imposing a one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance applicants are suspended as to all applicants who are unemployed as a direct result of the fire, who apply for unemployment insurance benefits during the time period beginning June 23, 2016, and ending on the close of business on December 23, 2016, and who are otherwise eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in California.
8. Local and state laws limiting capacity for care facilities licensed by the California Department of Social Services, including but not limited to, divisions 6 and 12 of title 22 of the California Code of Regulations, are hereby waived for 60 days to accommodate residents who have been forced to evacuate from facilities that are threatened by the fire.
9. The Office of Emergency Services shall provide local government assistance to Kern County, as appropriate, under the authority of the California Disaster Assistance Act, California Government Code section 8680, et seq., and California Code of Regulations, title 19, section 2900, et seq.
I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this proclamation be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given of this proclamation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 24th day of June 2016.