Governor Brown Secures Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to Support Communities Impacted by Wildfires


SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that the White House has approved California’s request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration, submitted yesterday, to bolster the ongoing emergency response and help residents recover from devastating fires burning in Butte, Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

“We have a real challenge here, threatening our whole way of life,” said Governor Brown alongside the state’s top emergency management officials yesterday at the State Operations Center. “It is a time of sadness, but also one to reflect on where we are and resolve to pull together and do everything we can to help those in need.”

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 public assistance to help state, tribal and local governments with ongoing emergency response and recovery, including the repair and replacement of disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure, including roads, bridges and utilities. The declaration includes hazard mitigation, which helps state and local governments reduce the risks and impacts of future disasters.

Yesterday, Governor Brown joined leaders of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, CAL FIRE, California Highway Patrol and California National Guard at the State Operations Center in Mather to provide an update on the ongoing firefighting efforts.

Major fires burning in Northern and Southern California have claimed lives and caused extensive damage to residences and infrastructure. The Camp Fire in Butte County, which has burned 113,000 acres and decimated the Town of Paradise, is already the most destructive fire in modern California history. The Hill and Woolsey fires in Southern California have burned more than 96,100 acres. More than 8,000 firefighters are working the front lines of wildfires statewide.

A state of emergency has been declared in Los Angeles, Ventura and Butte counties due to multiple fires and late last week, California secured direct federal assistance to further support the impacted communities – within 24 hours of making the request. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has activated the State Operations Center to its highest level and is coordinating with other local, state and federal emergency response officials to address emergency management needs.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

More information on the FEMA disaster declaration process can be found here.