Trump declares California wildfires a ‘major disaster,’ orders funds for recovery effort
U.S. President Donald Trump has declared a “major disaster” in California and ordered federal funding to be made available to help recovery efforts in areas affected by wildfires, the White House said in a statement on Sunday.
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday called on President Donald Trump to help the state fight and recover from the devastating wildfire season.
The White House said Trump had “ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by wildfires and high winds beginning on July 23, 2018, and continuing.”
Seven people died in a wildfire in northern California on Saturday, officials said.
Brown, who inspected neighborhoods wiped out by a wildfire in the Northern California city of Redding, said Saturday that he was confident the president he has clashed with over immigration and pollution policies would send aid, which Trump did last year when California’s wine country was hit hard.
“The president has been pretty good on helping us in disasters, so I’m hopeful,” said Brown, a Democrat. “Tragedies bring people together.”
There are 17 major fires burning throughout California, authorities said. In all, they have destroyed hundreds of homes, killed eight people — including four firefighters— and shut down Yosemite National Park.
WATCH: Fast-moving California wildfire threatens the rural community
Hundreds of colleagues, family and friends attended a memorial service Saturday in Fresno for National Forest Service Capt. Brian Hughes, the Fresno Bee reported . Hughes was killed July 29 by a falling tree while fighting the wildfire that has closed Yosemite National Park at the height of tourist season.
Firefighters have achieved 41 percent containment of that forest fire.
The fire had reached into remote areas of the country’s third-oldest national park. Workers who live in Yosemite’s popular Valley region were ordered to leave Friday because of inaccessible roads.
WATCH: Raging California wildfires force evacuations
The biggest blazes continue to burn north of San Francisco, including twin wildfires fueled by dry vegetation and hot, windy weather. Those fires destroyed 55 homes and forced thousands of residents to flee their neighborhoods about 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of the city. They have grown to a combined 300 square miles (648 kilometers).
The two fires have charred an area of the forested, rural area five times the size of San Francisco and were only 27 percent contained. Thousands of people remain evacuated.
The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings of critical fire weather conditions through Saturday night, saying a series of dry low-pressure systems passing through the region could bring wind gusts of up to 35 mph (56 kph) that could turn small fires or even sparks into racing walls of flames.
–With files from the Associated Press.
© 2018 Reuters