On Saturday, President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for California, where wildfires have consumed hundreds of thousands of acres, destroyed hundreds of structures, and left at least five dead since August 14.
The declaration will provide federal aid to affected regions of the state, including Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties, according to a White House statement.
President Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) often find themselves at odds, with Newsom generally supporting policies that are quite far to the left of the political spectrum.
Here, however, their differences were temporarily put aside, and Newsom actually took a moment to express his gratitude toward President Trump for the federal help.
“Thank you to the President for your partnership and granting this urgent Major Disaster Declaration,” Newsom said in a statement.
“California is battling two of the largest fires in our history and has seen nearly 600 new fires in the last week caused by dry lightning strikes,” Newsom added. “These are unprecedented times and conditions, but California is strong – we will get through this.”
The unprecedented conditions
As we know, it is not unusual for California to experience wildfires. But, this year has been particularly bad.
The two large fires to which Newsom was referring are the LNU Lightning Complex Fire and the SCU Lightning Complex Fire. These two fires alone have covered roughly 347,000 acres and 344,000 acres, respectively, making them two of the largest fires in California’s history. And they’re not done yet — as of Sunday, the LNU Complex was only 21% contained, while the SCU Complex was just 10% contained — and more dry lightning and wind is forecast through Monday.
Altogether, this year, California has seen hundreds of fires that burned through roughly 1 million acres.
What’s the cause?
Governor Newsom has blamed the fires on the weather that the state has been experiencing, pointing out that there have been over 12,000 lightning strikes over the past three days. Lightning strikes, dry conditions, and wind, of course, are not a good mix.
President Trump, however, has offered a different take. During a speech that he gave in Pennsylvania on Thursday, Trump placed the blame for the wildfires, to some extent, on “years” of poor forest management by California officials. He specifically accused them of failing to properly manage flammable debris.
Trump suggested that he might withhold federal aid. But, it appears that, at least this time around, he has decided to help California out.