For the second time during this historic fire season, California Governor Gavin Newsom has asked Donald Trump for a presidential major disaster declaration to help fight wildfires scorching much of the state.
“California is experiencing another siege of fires from early September, which continue to devastate communities throughout the State,” Newsom wrote in the letter, sent Monday. “In addition, at least two additional significant fires – the Glass Fire and the Zogg Fire – began burning yesterday and have rapidly spread and caused significant destruction.”
The presidential disaster declaration would help free up emergency federal funds to aid state and local firefighters battling nearly 30 fires burning across all parts of the state. Around 70,000 people in northern California alone have been forced to evacuate from the Glass and Zogg fires, which began on Sunday.
Newsom’s letter to Trump follows a previous request from the governor. In August, the president declared a major disaster declaration after a series of dry lightning events sparked hundreds of separate fires. So far, there have been more than 8,000 fires during this record-breaking season in California, killing 29 people and burning nearly 6,000 square miles.
Mass shut offs from PG&E, one of the state’s major utilities, made things even more complicated, as power was cut to avoid sparking any new fires in anticipation of gusty winds over the weekend. As of Monday night, about still 24,000 lacked power.
Fires are a natural part of the ecosystem in California, but climate change and residential development practices have drastically increased the severity of their impact.