COLFAX (CBS13) – Placer County has hired its first forest health coordinator.

The role will include preparing Placer County forests for fire season and preventing damages to both the forests and waterways in the area.

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Colfax resident Jerome Hromiak said he watched as last year’s River Fire moved quickly toward his home.

“It was massive,” he said. “It went from a small little column to a massive fire in 40 minutes.”

The River Fire burned homes and properties in the hard-hit area of Colfax and forest area.

“It’s a part of our life here now, unfortunately,” Hromiak said.

That’s a sad truth Placer County is prepared to face after hiring their first-ever forest health coordinator.

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“We are doing everything we can to minimize the risk of super damaging wildfires,” said Coordinator Kerri Timmer.

Timmer will work with state, federal and non-profit partners to fund projects targeting forest protection and sustainability.

She told CBS13 that Placer County already has a plan in place to protect homes and neighborhoods from wildfires. The new coordinator’s job specifically is to protect the county’s forests.

“If there’s a major fire in the forested areas, it can have terrible consequences to things like our water system and the habitats that are important up there and recreational opportunities,” Timmer said.

Forest fires mean animal ecosystems could be destroyed. Hazardous material could impact waterways. But for Placer County, it also affects tourism, including hiking and camping.”

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“Anywhere you look in Placer County, anyone you talk to, they’re here because of those opportunities,” Timmer said.