President Trump Approves Major Disaster Declaration for California, Sending More Federal Funds Amid Deadly Wildfires

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A destroyed house is seen on Nov. 12, 2018, in Malibu, as the Woolsey Fire continues to burn. (Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

A destroyed house is seen on Nov. 12, 2018, in Malibu, as the Woolsey Fire continues to burn. (Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for a major disaster declaration in California Monday evening as the state continues battling deadly wildfires — allowing more federal funding be funneled to the state.

The declaration will provide assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to residents affected by the devastating wildfires, chiefly three massive blazes that have torn through Butte, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties since Nov. 8. By Monday evening, the death toll had reached 44.

Some of the resources now available to Californians affected by the wildfires include housing assistance, crisis counseling, unemployment assistance and legal services, according to a statement from Brown’s office announcing the disaster declaration.

More than 8,000 firefighters continue battling the flames as containment has inched up to 30 percent for both the Camp and Woolsey fires by Monday night. The Camp Fire in Northern California has killed 42 people — making it the deadliest in state history.

Meanwhile, the Woolsey Fire that started in Ventura County before burning into the Los Angeles area has claimed two lives. Collectively, the two wildfires have burned through about 330 square miles.

A state of emergency had already been declared in Butte, Ventura and L.A. counties but the major disaster declaration will make additional federal assistance available to victims of the fires.

The declaration from Trump follows his attempt to blame the deadly blazes on California’s forest management and withhold federal funding amid the devastation.

His allegation of the state having “gross mismanagement” of its forests was met with swift backlash from lawmakers and fire officials alike.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby described the president’s statements as “unsatisfactory.”

“It’s very hurtful for all first responders that are putting their lives on the line to protect lives and property,” Osby said.

Gov. Brown also hit back at the president’s comments as he and other lawmakers pointed out that the vast majority of publicly owned forests in the state are managed by the federal government. He also joined scientists in saying climate change is playing a key role in the drier, warmer climate that’s making California vulnerable to such wildfires.

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