Trump administration rejects California's disaster assistance request for wildfires

The denial comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom requested financial aid from the federal government in a September 28 letter to the Trump administration outlining the financial impact of the wildfires.

Posted: Oct 16, 2020 9:39 AM
Updated: Oct 16, 2020 9:46 AM

By Sarah Moon and Paul LeBlanc, CNN

(CNN) -- 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 that has become the single largest in state history.

"The request for a Major Presidential Disaster Declaration for early September fires has been denied by the federal administration," Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson for the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, confirmed to CNN. The state plans to appeal the decision.


RELATED: President Trump signs major disaster declaration for Oregon


The denial comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom requested financial aid from the federal government in a September 28 letter to the Trump administration outlining the financial impact of the wildfires.

Writing that infrastructure damage estimates exceeded $229 million, Newsom asserted that "federal assistance is critical to support physical and economic recovery of California and its communities."

"The longer it takes for California and its communities to recover, the more severe, devastating, and irreversible the economic impacts will be," he said.

Recent 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 over Labor Day weekend.

The three other wildfires in the request were the Valley Fire in San Diego County, the Oak Fire in Mendocino County and the Slater Fire in Siskiyou County.


RELATED: Happy Camp town hall reflects on hazards still in the area, updates how to find out about damaged property


The White House said California's request for a presidential major disaster declaration was rejected because it was "not supported by the relevant data."

In a statement Friday, deputy press secretary Judd Deere highlighted other areas the federal government had provided assistance to California during its historic fire season.

"This summer, President Trump quickly approved wildfire relief for the State of California that was supported by damage estimates. In fact, this week the President made additional disaster assistance available to California by authorizing an increase in the level of Federal funding to 100% for debris removal and emergency protective measures undertaken as a result of the wildfires, beginning August 14, 2020, and continuing," Deere wrote in a statement.

"The more recent and separate California submission was not supported by the relevant data that States must provide for approval and the President concurred with the FEMA Administrator's recommendation," the statement read.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency told CNN in a statement Friday that damage assessments "determined that the early September fires were not of such severity and magnitude to exceed the combined capabilities of the state, affected local governments, voluntary agencies and other responding federal agencies."

"FEMA approved four Fire Management Assistance Grants in five counties for wildfires included in the state's disaster request, allowing reimbursement to state, local governments and other eligible agencies for 75 percent of firefighting, evacuation and sheltering costs," FEMA spokeswoman Lizzie Litzow said in the statement.

Since the beginning of this fire season, more than 8,500 wildfires have burned well over 4.1 million acres across the state, Cal Fire said in a press release on Thursday. Thirty-one people died as a result of the wildfires and more than 9,200 structures have been destroyed.

The Trump administration's decision falls in line with the President's combative history with the reliably Democratic state.

During a visit last month, Trump refused to acknowledge the effects the climate crisis is having on California's forest fires and instead continued to highlight the need for better forest management to clear dead trees that can serve as fuel for the fires.

When Wade Crowfoot, the secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency warned of the dangers of ignoring science and putting "our head in the sand and thinking that it's all about vegetation management," Trump responded by telling Crowfoot: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch."

"I wish science agreed with you," Crowfoot told him.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 356061

Reported Deaths: 4275
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55695704
Washington38673322
Marion36719454
Clackamas29660309
Lane27624302
Jackson22982310
Deschutes20211125
Umatilla14451150
Linn12780130
Douglas12065243
Josephine9349196
Yamhill8674113
Klamath7965118
Polk733681
Malheur561776
Benton546531
Coos501294
Columbia379744
Jefferson372352
Union318449
Lincoln318039
Crook287546
Wasco287441
Clatsop243329
Baker202529
Tillamook196432
Hood River192137
Morrow184423
Curry180025
Harney113726
Grant100013
Lake92412
Wallowa68612
Gilliam1544
Sherman1503
Wheeler1121
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4842472

Reported Deaths: 71202
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles148181426506
Riverside3712935030
San Diego3660564183
San Bernardino3582135663
Orange3241845550
Sacramento1593332308
Kern1459621644
Fresno1458772084
Santa Clara1453911896
Alameda1205301400
San Joaquin1025821721
Ventura1009841166
Contra Costa998841008
Stanislaus860701331
Tulare80203967
San Francisco54375646
San Mateo54112622
Monterey50885587
Solano46021341
Santa Barbara45160523
Merced42299581
Sonoma40925402
Placer39342425
Imperial35999766
Kings32801322
San Luis Obispo29945332
Madera23876285
Shasta23851352
Butte23738270
Santa Cruz21018220
Yolo20353248
Marin17692244
El Dorado17169149
Sutter13913175
Napa12882100
Yuba1008582
Tehama9510110
Humboldt9243108
Nevada914290
Mendocino763687
Lassen754347
San Benito744472
Tuolumne688089
Lake6605104
Amador544064
Siskiyou450546
Glenn436733
Calaveras389381
Del Norte358342
Colusa307218
Inyo211140
Mono16703
Plumas16417
Mariposa133416
Trinity87711
Modoc6865
Sierra1880
Unassigned1820
Alpine1030
Out of CA00
Medford
Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 51°
Brookings
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 52°
Crater Lake
Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 51°
Medford
Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 51°
Klamath Falls
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 37°
Showers and cool Friday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events