Speed Reads

California Burning

California says Trump rejected disaster assistance request for record wildfires

The Trump administration has turned down California Gov. Gavin Newsom's (D) request for a federal disaster declaration for six wildfires that have ravaged the state since August, the governor's Office of Emergency Services said Thursday evening. The six fires include the largest in California's recorded history, the August Complex fire. Newsom had requested the major disaster declaration in a Sept. 28 letter, and the Trump administration said no late Wednesday or Thursday.

A disaster declaration frees up federal resources, including money, for rebuilding and damage mitigation, and California will likely appeal the decision. In his letter, Newsom estimated that the infrastructure damage from the fires would top $229 million, but he did not request a specific dollar amount because some of the fires are still burning and damage assessments aren't complete. "The longer it takes for California and its communities to recover, the more severe, devastating, and irreversible the economic impacts will be," he wrote. "Californians are exhausted."

The August Complex fire has burned more than a million acres since August and is only 77 percent contained. The other five fires in the relief request are the Creek fire (Fresno and Madera counties), Bobcat fire (Los Angels County), El Dorado fire (San Bernardino County), Valley fire (San Diego County), Oak fire (Mendocino County), and Slater fire (Siskiyou County). Five of the six largest wildfires in state history have broken out since August.