• Fri. Nov 27th, 2020

California Gov. Asks Australia for Help in Fighting Fires: ‘We Simply Haven’t Seen Anything Like This’ – Newsweek

California Governor Gavin Newsom has put out a plea for Australia to provide assistance to help deal with the major wildfires burning across the state.

Around 560 fires are currently burning across hundreds of thousands of acres in California following a period of dry-lightning storms in the area.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), two of the blazes currently being fought are among the largest ever seen in the state.

The SCU Lightning Complex is burning around 250,000 acres across five different countries and still only 10 percent contained. The LNU Lightning Complex has burned through more than 300,000 acres in counties including Napa and Sonoma and is only 15 percent contained.

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Both fires are already among the top 10 biggest ever recorded in California.

At least six people have died, with a further 43 people including firefighters injured as a result of the fires. Hundreds of homes and other structures have also been destroyed.

In a news conference on Friday, Newsom confirmed that he has put in a plea for assistance from Australia and Canada as well as fire crews from across the U.S. to help California’s depleted resources.

“Seven-hundred and seventy-one thousand acres has already been burned in the state of California, the equivalent to the size of the state of Rhode Island,” Newsom said. “We simply haven’t seen anything like this in many, many years.”

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“These fires again are stretching our resources, stretching our personnel,” the governor added. “We have over 12,000 firefighters now actively working to suppress these larger complex fires.”

However, only 45 of 375 out-of-state fire crews requested by California had arrived to help with the blazes, a Cal Fire spokeswoman told Reuters.

Newsom said the conditions in neighboring Westerns states has impacted the aid being sent to assist with the fires.

“It’s a consequence of that heat dome impacting the Western United States,” he said. “And as a consequence of that, our mutual aid that goes outside of the state of California has also been stretched.”

Elsewhere, Newsom said that California has agreed a new agreement with the U.S. Forest Service for more forest management while asking the president to declare a major disaster in his state.

In his conference, Newsom thanked the Trump administration while suggesting that staff may not have “informed the president about the new partnership” to increase vegetation management.

“There’s not phone call that I have made to the president where he hasn’t quickly responded,” Newsom said. “He may make statements publicly, but the working relationship privately is an effective one.”

Trump recently blamed California officials not properly managing flammable debris on the ground for the spread of the fires.

“They’re starting again in California. And I said, you’ve got to clean your floors. You’ve got to clean your floors,” Trump said during a speech in Pennsylvania

“I’ve been telling them this now for three years, but they don’t want to listen.”

wildfire
Flames surround Lake Berryessa during the LNU Lightning Complex fire in Napa, California on August 19, 2020
JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty