President Barack Obama late Tuesday issued a major disaster declaration for California, making federal funds available to assist people displaced by wildfires and to support firefighting efforts.
Gov. Jerry Brown had requested declarations for the Valley and Butte fires, which together have burned more nearly 150,000 acres in northern California, killed at least five people and destroyed nearly 2,000 homes.
Obama approved the Valley Fire request, making it the first presidential disaster declaration for California since the south Napa earthquake a year ago.
In Brown’s letters to Obama Monday, he noted that four years of drought and multiple disasters in the past year had depleted the state’s resources.
There have been 69 major wildfires in California since January, Brown wrote, and they’ve burned triple the acreage of 2014’s fire season.
More than 11,000 firefighters have been deployed to five active fires affecting about 400,000 acres, Brown wrote.
The Valley Fire began burning on Sept. 12 and is 69 percent contained. Brown also requested a presidential disaster declaration for the Butte Fire, which has burned more than 70,000 acres since Sept. 9 and is 74 percent contained. The request is pending.