The Washington Post

California wins appeal for Rim Fire disaster funds


Flames from the Rim Fire consume trees on Aug. 25, 2013 near Groveland, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

President Obama on Friday approved an appeal from California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) for disaster assistance after a major blaze caused more than $50 million in damage near Yosemite National Park this summer.

The move partially reverses a Federal Emergency Management Agency decision last month to deny federal disaster relief funds related to the Rim Fire, which burned 257,000 acres of land this summer. The agency said the fire, which caused $54 million in damage, wasn’t severe enough to justify aid.

Brown appealed the decision in a Dec. 2 letter to the White House.

“In the aftermath of the fire, the state and its communities face infrastructure damage, significant negative economic impact, as well as complex and multifaceted environmental damages. The burned area created an enormous potential for catastrophic flooding and debris runoff from winter storms,” Brown wrote.

Obama ultimately signed off on disaster relief for repairs and replacements to facilities in Tuolumne County, one of two counties for which Brown had requested the disaster relief. FEMA will also provide federal funding for the state’s hazard mitigation measures.

The Rim Fire burned an area near Yosemite National Park for 69 days between August and October. It was the third-largest wildfire in California’s history.

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.

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