approves aid for six fires

SACRAMENTO, California, U.S. (AP) – The Trump administration suddenly changed its mind and approved California’s request for disaster relief funds to address damage from six deadly recent fires that burned the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday.

“I just got off the phone with President Trump, who has approved our request to declare a disaster area. Grateful for your quick response, “Newsom said in a brief statement.

Neither he nor the White House provided details on why the administration changed positions within two days of denying the request for a statement that officials say could provide hundreds of millions of dollars to the state.

The approval came in the same week that the utility company Pacific Gas and Electric cut service to more than 40,000 customers in Northern California to prevent strong winds from damaging equipment and starting fires in the midst of the fall heat wave. . Most of those affected were back on power Friday night, PG&E said.

Preliminary inspections found 30 cases of weather-related damage, including downed power lines in areas where the winds were strongest, PG&E added.

The company timed the blackouts better this time after criticism last year for cutting off supplies to about 800,000 customers and leaving about 2 million people in the dark for days.

Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House, had previously said that the California disaster declaration request “was not supported by the relevant data” necessary for its approval. At first, he explained that Trump agreed with Pete Gaynor, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who in a three-paragraph rejection letter pointed out that the damages “were not severe and magnitude to be beyond the capacities (of the state) “.

“The Governor and Leader (Republican Kevin) McCarthy spoke and presented a compelling case and additional perspective on the ground for reconsideration that led to the President’s approval of the declaration,” Deere said in a statement following Trump’s decision.

In a tweet, McCarthy thanked Trump for providing “the necessary assistance to rebuild and repair.”

About 9,000 firefighters are still working on the front lines in the state trying to put out 21 fires.


Antczak reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press reporters Janie Har from San Francisco and Kevin Freking from Washington, DC, contributed to this report.

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