President Donald Trump on Tuesday declared a major disaster in California, paving the way for federal assistance amid recovery efforts in areas devastated by last month’s destructive wildfires, the White House announced.
The declaration was made for parts of Southern California impacted by brush fires beginning on Dec. 4, which is when the Thomas Fire — now the largest on record in modern state history — erupted in Ventura County.
Federal funds will be made available to the state and eligible local governments for emergency work in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, as well as for hazard mitigation measures across California on a cost-sharing basis, according to an emailed statement from the White House.
“Damage assessments are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed,” the statement noted.
Gov. Jerry Brown had requested the major disaster declaration nearly two weeks ago, on Dec. 20, to help with recovery efforts after several wildfires ravaged parts of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Diego counties.
The Thomas Fire has yet to be fully contained nearly a month after it erupted, destroying more than 1,000 structures and resulting in the fatalities of two people.
As of Tuesday evening, it had burned a total of 281,893 acres and is 92 percent contained, officials said.