Earthquake expert Lucy Jones launches project to help CA communities prepare, recover from wildfires

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Friday, August 5, 2022
Dr. Lucy Jones starts project to prepare CA communities for wildfires
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Earthquake expert Dr. Lucy Jones has found preparing for quakes is similar to preparing for wildfires.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Earthquake expert Dr. Lucy Jones has found preparing for earthquakes is similar to preparing for wildfires.

"If the business can't reopen when people do start coming back, they're not going to be part of the recovery," said Jones, the chief scientist and founder of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center.

This week, Jones launched a project to support California communities in their preparedness and recovery from wildfires, as they become more common and destructive.

"Every dollar spent preventing a disaster gains you six dollars in the long run," Jones said. "The early investment is a much more effective way of doing it, and it's not just money.

"It really is that idea: do you have a community to come home to? If your community matters to you, and you want it to be there not just until the next disaster, but through the next disaster, you're going to have to do some things now."

Jones is closely watching the McKinney Fire in Northern California near the Oregon border.

In just three days, it became the largest wildfire in California this year. As of Thursday, the blaze has scorched 58,668 acres and is 10% contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The fire has killed four people.

"The conditions are such that our fuels are so absolutely dry. Record dry for both live and dead fuels in many areas. When we get the conditions and the conditions are ripe, these fires are going to burn extremely hot and extremely fast, as this did over the first couple of burn periods," Mike Lindberry, a CalFire public information officer assigned to the McKinney Fire, told Eyewitness News earlier this week.

Numerous structures have been destroyed and thousands have been forced to evacuate. Jones says not enough attention is paid to the small businesses in these communities who may never recover from a massive wildfire.

"People tend to think that the wildfire risk is over there, and they're the ones that are having it right now," Jones said. "But climate change is putting every ecosystem in the world under stress."