California Governor Asks Major Disaster Declaration Amid Wildfires -- Could They Be Prevented?

California Governor Asks Major Disaster Declaration Amid Wildfires -- Could They Be Prevented?1296
source: Pixabay

A day after criticizing President Trump, California Governor Gavin Newsom asked Washington for'  'major disaster declaration" amid massive wildfires.In his Democratic National Convention video on Thursday, Newsom said that the President had threatened California and all the 40 million Americans living there to defund the state's efforts on wildfire suppression as they "had not raked enough leaves."

"You've got to clean your floors," President Trump said on Thursday, blaming "years" of leaves and broken trees that have not been cleaned by the local authorities.

Despite the mutual public allegations, on Friday, Gov. Newsom admitted that the working relationship between his office and the White House is "an effective one." Newsom noted that the President responded quickly to every call he made.

He also thanked the President's administration for securing five fire grants. According to the governor, a major disaster declaration in the state of California would provide more funds. It will also allow the local authorities to be more flexible in their wildfire response.

The sudden surge of wildfires is burning through the state, threatening towns and sending smoke to major cities. Among the 560 ongoing fires are some of the largest California has ever witnessed. Gov. Newsom already requested help from neighboring states and Australia.

More than 12,000 firefighters assisted by helicopters and air tankers are battling the fire crisis.  California's fire officials managed to group smaller fires in an area into complexes to coordinate their actions better. The largest of them is the SCU Lightning Complex. It's burned 229,00 acres across parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. 

The other one, to the north, is the LNU Lighting Complex close to Napa. It already took at least four lives, burned more than 219,000 acres, and destroyed 600 structures. At least 100,000 people are under evacuation orders. 

Authorities in California are not concerned only about the size of the fires. Some of the blazes are reaching the coastal areas that do not burn very often and threaten the Golden State's landmark redwoods.

The heatwave and the Covid-19 spread do not make controlling the wildfires any easier too. In some areas across the state, the temperature reached triple digits, which led to rolling blackouts as utilities failed to meet the cooling demand.

Plus, the number of newly confirmed Covid-19 cases increased over the last two weeks. California typically uses prison labor to assist the fire workers, but it is now limited to prevent overcrowding.

What do you think? Is President Trump right in assuming that not the climate change but the insufficient maintenance is to blame for the massive fires in California?