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Taken in Orland during the fires by The Silent Speech. Used with Permission Wildfires are part of summer life in Chico due to its proximity to the Cascades and Sierras. Much of the land east of Chico is undeveloped and relatively wild thus creating the potential for wildfires. The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), Butte County Fire Department, Chico Fire Department, and USDA Forest Service all help to prevent and suppress wildfires in the area (depending on their jurisdiction).

Beginning in 2009, May 2nd - May 9th is Wildfire Awareness Week in California. Shortly after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed this, he issued Executive Order S-05-09 on May 5th which instructs agencies to prepare for a very active season. In the order he listed changing climate due to global warming, drought, fuel loads, and more as being responsible for his order. It instructs various agencies such as the California National Guard, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the California Conservation Corps, the California Emergency Management Agency, and others, to prepare for the fire season

2009 Fires

Taken in first 2009 Wildfire on Hicks Ln Sad to say the 2009 Wildfire season has already begun.

  • 5/20/2009 Small fire (not named) behind the Chico Airport off of Hicks Lane. A few acres burned. GPS coords are: N 39° 48.724 W121° 52.436 (+39° 48' 43.44", -121° 52' 26.16")
    • Was this the training exercise written about in the Chico ER on May 21? article here
    • Certainly looks like it. When I asked while at the scene, they just said that it was burning, almost out. Nothing about a training exercise was said to me but it certainly seems (per the article) that it was in the same spot.

2008 Fires


In the summer of 2008, Northern California had some of the largest fires seen in recent memory. Nearby Chico, there were large fires near Paskenta (the Whiskey Fire) and the communities of Orland, Paradise, Magalia, Oroville and Concow. The vast majority of them began with lightening strikes though a few were blamed on arson or activity by marijuana growers.

2008 was one of the heaviest burning fire seasons this part of Northern California has seen in recent memory.

Previous to 2008, the last major burn was in 1999 which actually affected parts of Bidwell Park (particularly with backburns to protect resources).


The fires of 2008 were met with a quick response from the local fire departments in Chico, Orland, Artois and the local chapters of Cal Fire. As the fires grew and new ones started up all over the surrounding areas, the city of Chico and Butte County requested further help. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the Governor of California, declared a state of emergency. Fire departments from as far south as San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura County responded.

1999 Fires

Lighting storms in Butte County sparked wildfires in the Chico area on August 22, 1999. The fires initially began in the area of Cohasset, and the situation got so bad that CNN was actually broadcasting from the small town of Cohasset. Thousands of acres burned during the rest of the month, and much of the ridge was affected. The air quality throughout the valley was extremely bad, and people were advised to stay indoors to avoid breathing the air. There were days when the sky was so gray that the sun was barely visible. There were other fires burning in California and other western states at the same time, which led to very poor air quality over a very large area.

The fires were so prominent that they were not only local and national news, but were covered internationally as well. The evening news in Germany was reporting on Chico/Butte County's wildfires, with maps and video of the area. Presumably other countries were also hearing about it at the time.