Gov. Brown Seeks Major Disaster Declaration for Wildfire-Ravaged Southern California

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A little red wagon found in the rubble following the Lilac Fire. Photo by Chris Stone

Gov. Jerry Brown stepped up efforts Wednesday to secure federal aid through a major disaster declaration prompted by the Southern California wildfires.

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If approved by President Donald Trump, the major disaster declaration would provide federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work throughout the impacted counties.

The governor has already issued emergency declarations for Santa Barbara, San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura counties, but federal funding under this type of proclamation is limited. The major disaster declaration aims to bolster ongoing state and local recovery efforts, according to the governor’s office.

Fed by warm temperatures, low humidity and fierce Santa Ana winds, multiple fires erupted across Southern California — including the San Diego County Lilac Fire — earlier this month forcing more than 200,000 Californians to evacuate and seek temporary shelter.

Over 8,700 firefighters were deployed to fight these fires, including California National Guard air and ground forces. Twelve states — Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming — have deployed resources to help battle the fires.

To date, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County has burned more than 270,000 acres, destroyed over 1,000 structures and resulted in two fatalities. The fire continues to burn erratically and is only 60 percent contained. Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson, a San Diego-based firefighter whose funeral is set for Saturday in Point Loma, was among the dead.

Earlier this year, Brown secured more than $13 million in federal funding as part of a major disaster declaration for the October Northern California fires and the Orange County Canyon Fire.


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