Trump administration rejects, then approves, emergency aid for California fires, including biggest blaze in state history

The president reversed the initial decision a few hours later after a direct appeal from Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in a midday phone call.

Trump administration rejects, then approves, emergency aid for California fires, including biggest blaze in state history

Oct. 16, 2020 at 5:03 p.m. EDT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Fueled by extreme heat and dry, windy conditions, wildfires ravaged California in September, blazing through almost 1.9 million acres, destroying nearly 1,000 homes and killing at least three people. One wildfire, the Creek Fire, became the largest single inferno in California history and grew so fierce it spun up fire tornadoes with 125-mph winds.

On Friday, the request for federal assistance to help pay for the recovery from a half-dozen of those fires spun up a tornado of its own. Like the proverbial tempest, the storm over the money had been contained in a teapot by the day’s end.

The day began with news that the Trump administration had refused to grant California an emergency declaration that would make hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding available for areas devastated by the Creek Fire and five others. Federal officials said the most recent application did not meet the criteria for federal relief.

Source: Trump administration rejects, then approves, emergency aid for California fires, including biggest blaze in state history

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