The Trump administration has rejected California’s request for disaster relief aid for six recent fires that have scorched more than 1.8 million acres in land, destroyed thousands of structures and caused at least three deaths, a state official said.
“The request for a Major Presidential Disaster Declaration for early September fires has been denied by the federal administration,” Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the governor’s office of emergency services, said late Thursday.
The state plans to appeal the decision, Mr. Ferguson said, adding that the state believes it has a “strong case that California’s request meets the federal requirements for approval.”
Lizzie Litzow, a press secretary for FEMA, said on Friday that the damage assessments completed with state and local partners “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.”
The aid rejection came weeks after President Trump visited California after a period of silence on its wildfires and blamed poor forest management, not climate change, for the crisis. “I don’t think science knows” what is happening, he said, when the state’s secretary for natural resources pressed him.