- The Washington Times - Friday, December 8, 2017

President Trump on Friday declared an emergency in California and ordered federal assistance for wildfires stoked by strong winds that now stretch from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara County.

The order activated the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.

“This action will help alleviate the hardship and suffering that the emergency may inflict on the local population, and provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura,” said the declaration.

Almost 200,000 Californians have been chased from their homes as more than 5,700 firefighters battle six large wind-stoked fires and several smaller ones that have erupted since Monday.

The blazes stretch from Los Angeles up the Pacific coast to Santa Barbara County, putting billions of dollars of property at risk.

The National Weather Service on Friday forecast continued extreme fire danger conditions, with peak wind gusts up to 55 miles per hour through Sunday from the dry Santa Ana winds blowing westward from the California desert.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection warned that wind and weather conditions would increase risks from the Los Padres National Forest north of Santa Barbara down the Pacific coast to the Mexican border.

Rep. Darrell Issa, whose district covers northern San Diego County, offered prayers and assistance for those suffering because of the wildfires.

“My heart is heavy today from the destruction of the latest wildfires in our community. I pray for the safety of everyone in our area, for the families who’ve lost homes, property, and for the many more who’ve been forced to flee as this devastating fire continues to spread,” the California Republican said in a statement.

“I appreciate the swift response from all of our emergency responders and volunteers as well as the call for, and prompt approval of, a federal emergency declaration that will allow assets at all levels of government to be fully deployed,” he said. “To all those in our area: safety is our first concern. Please continue heeding public safety warnings, keep an eye on the news, stay alert and evacuate if necessary. Any constituent who needs help should contact my office to see how we can be of assistance.”


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