September 11, 2020 – Three additional counties – Butte, Plumas and Yuba counties – have been designated to receive federal assistance from Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance Program in response to ongoing statewide wildfires. In total, 11 California counties have been designated for public assistance as part of the major disaster declaration.
On August 22, 2020, President Donald J. Trump granted a Major Disaster Declaration for California due to multiple massive wildfires burning throughout Northern California amid an unrelenting heatwave. That disaster declaration was amended September 5 to designate Lake, Monterey, Napa, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma counties for public assistance with eligible debris removal projects and again on September 10 to add Butte, Plumas and Yuba counties for assistance with emergency protective measures.
As of September 11, the North Complex Fire has burned more than 252,000 acres across Butte, Plumas and Yuba counties and is 23 percent contained. The Willow Fire, also burning in Yuba County, has consumed 1,311 acres and is 25 percent contained.
A Presidential Major Disaster Declaration helps people in the impacted counties through eligibility for support including crisis counseling, housing and unemployment assistance and legal services. It also provides federal assistance to help state, tribal and local governments fund emergency response, recovery and protective measures.
Eligible applicants for FEMA Public Assistance funds include state, county and local governments, federally recognized tribal governments, and some private non-profits such as educational and medical facilities. Typically, FEMA provides 75 percent of the cost of eligible projects. Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a statewide emergency due to the widespread fires and extreme weather conditions and activated the State Operations Center to its highest level. California initially secured Fire Management Assistance Grants from FEMA to support the state’s response to various fires burning in Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Santa Cruz, San Mateo Napa, Nevada, Lake, Solano, Yolo and Monterey counties, and recently added Siskiyou, Butte, Plumas and Yuba counties to the list.
The Governor last month announced that the state would hire 858 more firefighters and six California Conservation Corps (CCC) crews through October to bolster firefighting support amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past year and a half, California has taken major action and made critical investments to fortify wildfire preparedness and response capabilities. CAL FIRE completed the last of its 35 emergency fuels management projects in May, making 90,000 acres safer ahead of wildfire season and protecting 200 vulnerable communities.