California Governor Declares Emergency Over Deadly Wildfires

As a wildfire rages on in Northern California, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency.

On Thursday, Cal Fire reported that this latest fire, referred to as the Thompson Fire, was only about 7% contained and had affected 3,568 acres thus far. This comes one day after the very large wildfire forced evacuation orders to be issued for parts of Butte County near Oroville.

By declaring a state of emergency, the state can secure a Fire Management Assistance Grant made available by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This helps to deliver crucial resources that the area will need to fight the fire and, ultimately, recover from it.

A federal disaster relief fund provides the money for the grant. Ultimately, as much as three-fourths of the cost of fighting the fire could come from federal funding. 

In addition, the California Office of Emergency Services said it would be deploying more law enforcement and fire resources so they could assist with fighting the fire and providing other aid as needed.

Officials with Butte County said that the fire was threatening some of the region’s critical infrastructure, such as the power and water supply to the city of Oroville and the surrounding area. Local emergencies have been declared by both the county and city.

The county is offering all residents N-95 respirator masks for free, which could help people breathe easier with the air quality being so poor in the area. There are two locations in Oroville where residents can pick up the masks.

And, as the Fourth of July is here, the city was forced to put a temporary ban in place on any fireworks being launched, until further notice. This includes the California Parks Department canceling its planned Fourth of July fireworks show in the city because of safety concerns.

Cal Fire has said that eight firefighters who are fighting the fire have been injured, though the extent of those injuries isn’t known at this time.

While many structures have been destroyed or burned by the fire, it’s too early to determine exactly how many at this point since the fire isn’t contained. 

Some local residents have been trying to fight the fire right alongside firefighters so they could save their homes from being destroyed.

Authorities don’t yet know what caused the fire, which happened in an area of California that has a long history of wildfires destroying large swaths of land.

Back in 2018, the infamous Camp Fire nearly destroyed the entire town of Paradise. In its path, it scored in excess of 150,000 acres and left 85 people dead. That wildfire was the deadliest in the history of California.

On Wednesday, evacuation orders that had been issued affected about 28,000 people. Some of those orders were mandatory, while others were simply evacuation warnings.

Other water project facilities were also forced to evacuate due to the looming threat that the wildfire poses.