Trump administration rejected California’s request for federal assistance in recovery after wildfires

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The Trump administration has rejected California’s request for a disaster declaration for six destructive wildfires that burned hundreds of thousands of acres across the state, including a massive central California wildfire. In a September letter, Gov. Newsom asserted that “federal assistance is critical to support physical and economic recovery of California and its communities,” as infrastructure damage exceeded $229 million. The fires included in the disaster declaration request were the Creek Fire, the largest wildfire in the state’s history, which has scorched 341,722 acres across Fresno and Madera counties, the Bobcat Fire, which has burned 115,796 acres in Los Angeles County, and the El Dorado Fire, which was sparked by a gender reveal party in San Bernardino County.

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Thirty-one people have died so far this year in connection to the fires, more than 8,454 structures have been destroyed and about 100,000 people have had to be evacuated. A major disaster declaration allows for cost-sharing for damage, cleanup and rebuilding between the state and federal government. Such aid could easily reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars. The denial of the declaration will probably lead to a federal appeal by the state.