Dear Mr. President:
Today, we write in support of the State of California's request for a Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance and Public Assistance as a result of the devastating wildfires in Lake, Mendocino, and Napa Counties.
California has experienced an unusual amount of wildfire activity--with 16 wildfires burning simultaneously throughout the state. These fires have been exacerbated by the weather, which is exceptionally hot and dry. Daytime highs and nighttime lows have averaged 10 degrees above normal and drought conditions prevail. We appreciate your swift approval of a Major Disaster Declaration for Shasta County for the Carr Fire, as well as of Fire Management Assistance Grants, to help our state fight these devastating fires. As you know, the Carr Fire that began its devastating impact in Shasta County has also crossed into Trinity County, where mandatory evacuation orders were issued and additional assistance may be required.
On July 27, 2018, the River and Ranch Fires ignited in Mendocino County and quickly crossed into Lake County. These two fires, collectively known as the Mendocino Complex Fire, subsequently exploded in size, threatening highly populated areas within Lake County. They have scorched more than 280,000 acres and forced the entire population of Upper Lake and the City of Lakeport to evacuate. The Mendocino Complex Fire continues to grow at an alarming rate, and is now the largest fire in our state's history. It is only 30 percent contained.
In addition, on the evening of July 28, 2018, the Steele Fire ignited in Napa County. Though smaller in size than the Carr or Mendocino Complex Fires, the Steele Fire has already been extremely destructive. Residents were forced to flee with almost no prior notice, as the fire destroyed homes soon after ignition.
These catastrophic fires are a disaster of major scope and consequence. Therefore, we strongly support the State of California's request for a major disaster declaration for these communities. We appreciate your consideration of this request and stand ready to assist you in expediting support and resources to the communities afflicted by this terrible tragedy.