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Cal Fire short-staffed | Tragic loss of Red Bluff firefighter| California water use jumps in March


The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Wednesday, May 11.

New bill would address Cal Fire staffing shortage

California is in a multi-year drought and facing another long fire season. On top of that, the state says it has a shortage of firefighters.

State Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) introduced a bill to address the lack of crew members at Cal Fire.

“They’re working incredibly long overtime hours, and many times up to 40-to-60 days in a row without a single day off,” McGuire said. “When these firefighters are deployed, they’re working in incredibly traumatic conditions for weeks on end. And now it’s year after year after year.”

If the bill passes, McGuire said it would lead to the immediate hiring of more than 1,100 firefighters. McGuire estimates that would cost the state $220 million annually.

— CapRadio Staff

Tehama County mourns the loss of local firefighter

A firefighter from Red Bluff died in Tuolumne County Friday. According to a press release from Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppression Inc., Darin Banks, 26, was killed when a tree unexpectedly fell while he working with a hand crew to prepare an area for prescribed burning.

Firestorm President Jess R. Wills said his loss is deeply felt.

“Our hearts go out to all who knew and loved Darin, and we ask you to keep them in your thoughts and prayers during this time of sorrow,” Wills said.

Banks leaves behind his 4-year-old son, mother, siblings, grandparents, and great-grandparents. A GoFundMe has been created to support his family.

— Alec Stutson, NSPR

Despite drought, California's water use jumped nearly 19% in March

Californians emerged from the driest January, February and March on record with the biggest jump in water use since the drought began: a nearly 19% increase in March compared to two years earlier.

Despite the urgent pleas of water officials, California’s water use in March is the highest since 2015, standing in stark contrast to February, when residents and businesses used virtually the same amount of water in cities and towns as two years ago.

The massive increase shrank conservation gains since last summer, according to data released Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board: During the period from last July through March, Californians used 3.7% less water than during the same stretch in 2020. Read the full story.

— Rachel Becker, CalMatters

California diesel fuel price surpasses $6 a gallon

The price for a gallon of diesel fuel in California is now $6.46 on average.

Patrick De Haan, with the tracking service GasBuddy, said high diesel prices have far-reaching implications for the U.S. economy.

"Much of our economy is powered by diesel fuel; from semi-trucks that make deliveries to retail stores, to trains that haul goods across the country, construction equipment, just so much of the commerce in the economy is driven by heavy vehicles that take diesel fuel," he said.

De Haan attributes the surge in diesel and gas prices to the rising price of oil. He said there's not enough oil produced globally to offset Russia's contribution.

Nations throughout the world are sanctioning Russia and not purchasing the country's oil because of the war in Ukraine.

— CapRadio Staff

Stories from NPR partner stations are edited by NSPR Staff for digital presentation and credited as requested.

In other news

  • City residents collect signatures to oppose council’s commercial cannabis decision: “Susanville residents may ultimately get to decide if commercial cannabis and dispensaries will be allowed within the city limits. The Susanville City Council approved a city ordinance allowing commercial cannabis activities at its May 4 meeting despite pleas from many city residents to put the matter before the voters.” — Lassen County Times
  • The story behind those four lanes on Eaton Road: “In north Chico, a new subdivision has built out Eaton Road into a four-lane, divided expressway, even though it only runs from Morseman Avenue to Burnap Road.” — Chico Enterprise-Record
  • Chico’s plan to grow at Valley’s Edge would add 2,777 residential units: “Chico is on the path to develop its largest housing development in its history called the Valley’s Edge. The Valley’s Edge Specific Plan is a proposal to develop more than 1,400 acres of land located generally to the east of Bruce Road with entrances located at the Skyway and East 20th Street.” — Chico Enterprise-Record

In case you missed it

Headlines is published every weekday morning at 8:30 a.m. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and NPR One. Theme song Borough is courtesy of Blue Dot Sessions

Angel Huracha has been a part of the journalism field since 2006 and has covered a range of topics. He is a graduate of Chico State with a Bachelor's degree in news-editorial and public relations with a minor in English.
Alec Stutson grew up in Colorado and graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in Radio Journalism, 20th/21st Century Literature, and a minor in Film Studies. He is a huge podcast junkie, as well as a movie nerd and musician.
Adia White is a broadcast journalist and producer with nearly 10 years of experience. Her work has appeared on WNYC, This American Life, Capital Public Radio and other local and national programs. She started at North State Public Radio as a freelance reporter in 2017 before leaving for a stint at Northern California Public Media in Santa Rosa.