California Secures Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to Support State’s Response to Wildfires

SACRAMENTO ‚ÄstGovernor Gavin Newsom today announced that the President has approved¬†California‚Äôs request for a Major Disaster Declaration to¬†bolster the state‚Äôs emergency response to wildfires across the state and support impacted residents in¬†Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, San Bernardino, San Diego and Siskiyou counties.

‚ÄúJust got off the phone with President Trump who has approved our Major Disaster Declaration request. Grateful for his quick response,‚ÄĚ said Governor Newsom.

A Presidential Major Disaster Declaration helps people in the impacted counties through eligibility for support including crisis counseling, housing and unemployment assistance and legal services. It also provides federal assistance to help state, tribal and local governments fund emergency response, recovery and protective measures.

California previously secured a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to bolster the state’s emergency response to the Northern California wildfires as well as Fire Management Assistance Grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support the state’s ongoing response to fires burning across the state. Governor Newsom has declared a statewide emergency due to the widespread fires and extreme weather conditions and signed an executive order to streamline recovery efforts in communities impacted by the devastating fires. The Governor last month signed a package of bills to improve the state’s emergency preparedness and response efforts, support wildfire survivors and safeguard communities in high fire hazard areas.

With another dangerous wildfire season underway amid the ongoing pandemic, the state is hiring 858 more firefighters and six California Conservation Corps crews to bolster firefighting support. California has taken major action and made critical investments to fortify wildfire preparedness and response capabilities since the Governor took office. CAL FIRE completed the last of its 35 emergency fuels management projects in May, making 90,000 acres safer ahead of wildfire season and protecting 200 vulnerable communities.

Major investments include augmenting the CAL FIRE air fleet with new FIREHAWK S-70i helicopters and C-130 airplanes, and bolstering firefighting surge capacity and pre-positioning capabilities. The state also launched an Innovation Procurement Sprint to develop early warning technologies and place fire detection cameras across the state. This year’s budget included $85.6 million in new, ongoing dollars to fund permanent firefighting positions, and continues the funding for CAL FIRE to procure innovative technology that allows us to model fire behavior.

Jonathan Gudel

Jonathan Gudel is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Since joining Cal OES, he has assisted in the response and recovery efforts of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, the state's historic drought, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, unprecedented winter storms in 2017, the 2017 October (Sonoma County) and December (Santa Barbara County) wildfires, the Camp Fire in 2018, the 2020 statewide fire siege, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, he worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years.

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