Trump reverses decision and approves California’s request for wildfire relief

President Trump on Thursday approved California’s request for wildfire aid, just hours after it was denied by his administration. “Just got off the phone with President Trump who has approved our Major Disaster Declaration request. Grateful for his quick response,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement. 

With the approved disaster declaration, emergency funds will “bolster the state’s emergency response to wildfires across the state and support impacted residents in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, San Bernardino, San Diego and Siskiyou counties,” Newsom’s office said.

In his September 28 letter sent to the Trump administration, Governor Gavin Newsom estimated that the state would need more than $346 million in federal assistance. More than 9,000 firefighters are still actively fighting 12 major and eight minor fires across the state, with evacuation orders still in effect in certain areas, according to Cal Fire. 

In the original denial, FEMA said, “The damage assessments conducted with state and local partners determined that the early September fires were not of such severity and magnitude to exceed the combined capabilities of the state, affected local governments, voluntary agencies and other responding federal agencies.” California officials had planned to appeal the denial. 

Since the beginning of 2020, California’s wildfires have burned more than 4 million acres of land, doubling the state’s previous record. Cal Fire has reported that 31 people have died in the blazes. One of the most recent fires, California’s August Complex, burned over one million acres of land. That fire is over 77% percent contained as of Friday.

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