16 federal firefighting grants approved in California


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) – California Emergency Management leaders want another major disaster declaration from President Trump because of devastating wildfires.

The state’s top emergency management leader discussed the challenges California is facing as it tries to bring in more firefighting help.

“The amount of fire that we have along the landscape of the state is probably the most I’ve seen in my time,” Mark Ghilarducci said.

Long-time emergency management leader and Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci says this year is unlike any he’s experienced before.

For the second time in a month, California is requesting another presidential major disaster declaration for devastating wildfires.

He confirmed the federal government has now approved 16 firefighting grants, also known as FMAGS — The most ever in a single California fire season.

“Not every fire gets an FMAG. You have to have a series of events that really could end up in a catastrophic event,” Ghilarducci said.

With dozens of major fires burning since August, the office of emergency services says 20 other states have joined the firefight through the out-of-state and federal mutual aid systems but the pandemic has thrown in an added hurdle to bringing in the extra help.

“There were firefighters that could not respond because there were jurisdictions that had COVID positives. Their availability to support just wasn’t there. In the event, we’re moving resources. When we’re working with the U.S. Forest Service, we brought in crews from Canada, they all had to be quarantined before coming in, that all has to be factored in which adds another level of complexity,” Ghilarducci said.

Ghilarducci says because of the pandemic coupled with West Coast heatwaves, the resources haven’t been met to the degree state leaders would like but Ghilarducci says the state is trying to balance that out accordingly.

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