The Trump Administration is rejecting a request for disaster relief after six California wildfires cause massive damage. The wildfires scorched more than one-point-eight million acres, destroyed thousands of structures and killed at least three. The rare move to deny the relief funds follows President Trump's repeated criticism California has poor forest management.
Federal disaster declarations are used to spread the cost for cleanup and rebuilding between the state and federal governments. Once a declaration is made, Federal Emergency Management Agency relief programs are also triggered.
Governor Gavin Newsom has praised the Trump administration for prior federal aid to deal with other wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, and Newsom said fires have cost the state $229 million so far this year.
It's unclear why the disaster aid is being withheld this time, but California Assemblyman Jim Patterson said he was told on Thursday night by The State's Office of Emergency Services that initiating debris cleanup on one of those fires, while state officials file their appeal. Patterson said in a Friday news conference that he's also been in touch with federal lawmakers from California to seek their help. The Creek Fire, for exampel, has scorched nearly 342,000 acres south of Yosemite National Park.
Republican State Senator Andreas Borgeas from Fresno has sent a letter to President Trump and FEMA asking reconsideration for California's request.
"I appreciate the Administration's close cooperation with local and State authorities in order to combat the Creek Fire," said Senator Borgeas. "I have personally witnessed damaged areas and listened to heartbreaking stories from people who lost their homes and businesses to the Creek Fire. Federal support would greatly help Fresno and Madera Counties with the monumental cleanup and repopulation efforts ahead."