Brown asks Trump for wildfire aid as state battles 17 blazes
SAN FRANCISCO — Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday called on President Donald Trump to help California fight and recover from another devastating wildfire season.
Brown inspected neighborhoods wiped out by a wildfire in the Northern California city of Redding and the Democratic governor said he was confident the Republican president he has clashed with over immigration and pollution policies would send aid, which Trump did last year when the California’s wine country was hit hard.
“The president has been pretty good on helping us in disasters so I’m hopeful,” Brown said. “Tragedies bring people together.
Authorities said there are 17 major fires burning throughout California. In all, they have destroyed hundreds of homes, killed eight people and shut down Yosemite National Park.
“Fire season is really just beginning,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection chief Ken Pimlott.
The biggest blazes continue to burn north of San Francisco, including twin wildfires fueled by dry vegetation and hot, windy weather. Those fires destroyed 55 homes and forced thousands of residents to flee their neighborhoods about 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of the city. They have grown to almost 250 square miles (648 kilometers).
The two fires have charred an area of the forested, rural area five times the size of San Francisco and were only 27 percent contained. Thousands of people remain evacuated.
The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings of critical fire weather conditions through Saturday night, saying a series of dry low-pressure systems passing through the region could bring wind gusts of up to 35 mph (56 kph) that could turn small fires or even sparks into racing walls of flames.
“This is a particularly dangerous situation with extremely low humidity and high winds. New fires will grow rapidly out of control, in some cases people may not be able to evacuate safely in time should a fire approach,” the weather service said in its bulletin for the Mendocino area north of San Francisco.
As a precaution, new evacuations were called Friday for an area of Mendocino and Lake counties where the week-old twin fires are threatening about 9,000 homes.
The fire remained several miles from the evacuated communities along the eastern shore of Clear Lake but “it looks like there’s dicey weather on the way,” California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Jane LaBoa said.