'This Week': California Fire Emergency

George Stephanopoulos talks with Gov. Jerry Brown about the fires, extreme drought and climate change.
7:15 | 05/18/14

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Transcript for 'This Week': California Fire Emergency
Starting right now on ABC's "This week" -- fire emergency. The red-hot battle against raging infernos. We're live on the front lines. Plus, California governor, jerry brown, on the drought that could make this one of the deadliest fire seasons, yet. Firing back. She's doing great. She's in better shape than I am. It's the Clintons versus Karl rove, in a bitter battle over Hillary's health. Who won? And is it a preview of 2016? Campus alert. The nationwide outcry about college sexual assault. Are students safe? And celebrating a legend. Joining us will be Barbara Walters of ABC news. Barbara Walters, how she changed the view on Sundays. From ABC news, "This week" with George stephanopoulos begins now. Good morning. It's been a brutal week for firefighters out west, battling an unprecedented threat. There they are, just inches from the flames. The worst is over now. But the toll is high. 25,000 acres scorched. Heartbroken families returning home. Everything gone. ABC's bazi kanani starts us off from San marcos, California. Good morning, bazi. Reporter: Good morning, George. Officials expect all of the evacuated residents will be allowed to return to their homes by tonight. And unfortunately this is what some are finding. This home, one of dozens destroyed by the fast-moving fires. The raging results of not enough rain. Four of the ten wildfires tearing through San Diego county this week, still not contained. Thousands of firefighters and Marines rush to beat back the flames. 25,000 acres charred, 1 dead and already nearly $20 million in damage. What's lost for many families is priceless. The Gilmore family in carlsbad, now digging to salvage memories. Just hours before his senior prom, 18-year-old Adam recovered one of the new remaining momentoes of his childhood. One of the few things was a woody, little toy here. It's pretty burnt to a crisp. Reporter: Cooler temperatures and calmer winds are helping firefighters get the upper hand. But it's just not enough to reduce the fire danger here and across the state. California's firefighting agency has responded to 1,500 fires this year, nearly double an average year. Nearly all of California, in extreme drought, after another winter and spring with almost no rain. With vegetation already drying out, these exhausted firefighters may not get much rest in the hot months ahead. California fire officials are pleading with residents here to get serious about fire prevention. They say the first fire here was started by sparks from a construction vehicle. George? Okay, bazi. Thanks very much. Let's get more on this, now, from California governor, jerry brown. Governor brown, thank you for joining us this morning. Is the situation under control? Well, relatively under control. You never know. It depends upon the weather. Today, tomorrow, next week. So, yes. It's under control for the moment. But we're in a very serious fire season. More serious than we've seen before. So, we have to watch and be very careful. You say more serious than you've seen before. Twice as many fires already this year than the average over the last five years. I was struck by the front page of "Usa today" on Friday. It says, drought turns California into a tinderbox. What more are you expecting this summer? Well, we're in the third year of a very dry season. We're getting ready for the worst. Now, we don't want to anticipate before we know. But we need a full complement of firefighting capacity. The state's climate appears to be changing. The scientists tell us that definitely. So, we have to gear up here. And after all, in California, for 10,000 years, our population was about 300,000. Now, it's 38 million. We have more structures, more activity, more sparks, more combustible activity. And we've got to gear up for it. And as the climate changes, this is going to be a radically different future than was our historic past. Well, that's the big question. How do you adapt to that? You say the climate change is definitely at the heart -- at least a big part of this. There's a lot of skepticism particularly among republicans in Washington about that. How do you build a consensus to adapt? That's a challenge. It is true that there's virtually no republican who accepts the science that virtually is unanimous. There is no scientific question. There's just political denial for various reasons, best known to those people who are in denial. But whatever the thoughts of the republicans, we here in California on the front lines, we got to deal with it. We've already appropriated $600 million. We have 5,000 firefighters. We're going to need thousands more. And in the years to come, we're going to have to make very expensive investments and adjust. And the people are going to have to be careful how they live, how they build their homes and what kind of vegetation is allowed to grow around them. So, what else can you do right now to prevent the worst? I know you signed an executive order creating new regulations for restaurants and local governments. What more can you do? Do you need more from Washington? If Washington could change the drought, I'd ask them. But we live in a world that is not just government or not just business. It's natural. The natural systems. And as we send billions and billions of tons of heat-trapping gases, we get heat and we get fires and we get what we're seeing. So, we've got to gear up. We're going to deal with nature as best we can. But humanity is on a collision course with nature. And we're just going to have to adapt to it in the best way we can. In California, we're not only adapting. But we're taking steps to reduce our greenhouse gases in a way that I think exceeds any other state in the country. And we'll do more. In the meantime, all we can do is fight all these damn fires. Before you go, I want to ask you a final political question. Back in 1992, you stayed in the primaries against bill Clinton, up to the convention, that it shouldn't be a coronation. You saw both Clintons out in full force this week. Do you think Hillary is heading for a coronation this time around? And is that a good thing for democrats? Well, I wouldn't call it a coronation. But I would say she's the overwhelming favorite. I can't see any opposition or even potential opposition. Whether it's a good thing or not, it does carry with it risks. Being a front-runner is being on a perch that everyone else is going to try to knock you off of. So, she's there. She's got the capacity. But like any front-runner, she has to be cautious and wise in how she proceeds forward. Governor brown, thank you very much for your time this morning.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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