Cal Fire refuses to release the death tolls, despite the subpoena

Despite promises, California doesn’t know how many people died in record summer heat wave

By David Ingram

15 May 2019

Last week, the State of California failed to provide the public with the total number of deaths linked to the record-breaking heat of the summer, prompting protesters to take to the streets in multiple cities in opposition to the lack of transparency.

While the state maintains that the toll will be released “in the coming weeks”—a statement likely to be contradicted by the new record-breaking heat—the truth is that the public will finally get to learn the numbers after the state is compelled by the subpoena of a federal judge to answer those questions.

The heat-related deaths that the state is now refusing to release have been confirmed by the National Weather Service (NWS) in several cities across the state. One of the NWS report’s four worst-case scenarios forecasted more than 1,000 deaths in Sacramento from two days, and 100-150 deaths in San Jose from two days of record-breaking temperatures, followed by 80-100 deaths in Santa Cruz between two days.

Those numbers have been confirmed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is now required to provide the data and other information under the state of California’s Emergency and Disaster Relief Fund.

In response to the subpoena, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) released a statement declaring that the figures regarding the death toll will be “released when the court orders it”—with no indication of when such data will be produced at an upcoming public hearing this month.

In addition to the refusal to release the death tolls, the Cal Fire department refuses to provide the details of the response plan and its own investigations of the wildfires that have ravaged the state since the heat wave began.

Cal Fire maintains that all of its investigations and responses have been above and beyond the call of duty, despite the fact that they have been exposed as nothing more than a whitewash by state investigators, who have sought to hide the facts by claiming that “fires,” including those caused by the heat wave, are “ natural events.”

California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has been a leading opponent of the state’s transparency policies, declared that he will continue to pursue the release of the details surrounding the state’

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