Wildfires mostly under control in California, dregs up debate over federal funding

Cade Petrie, Staff Writer

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The California wildfires which have scorched thousands of acres over the past weeks are now largely under control, though many warn that high temperatures and lack of humidity are still factors in risk for further fires. 

Mandatory evacuation orders for those in Ventura county affected by the Maria Fire were lifted on Nov. 2. Fire captain Steve Kaufmann has declared that “we’re pretty much in the mop-up stage.” This particular fire has sparked controversy as it may have been caused by the re-energizing of a 16,000 volt power line in the area by Southern California Edison. 

As of Friday, the Ranch fire is 55% contained, with three reported injuries and 2,534 acres of land burned. The Kincade fire, one of the larger ones most recently, has been fully contained and the evacuation orders for those affected have been lifted. Health advisors warn of unhealthy air quality in the area in the next few days, however, as changing weather conditions will likely lead to increased air pollution. 

The Hillside fire in San Bernadino is also fully contained, and only 200 acres were burned. 

Following the warnings of high temperatures and dryness, the Mankin fire and the San Diego area fire both began on Friday Nov. 9. There have been no updates as of writing as to how contained these are, and it is likely that emergency responders are in the earlier stages of containment.

In response to the fires over the past few weeks, President Trump tweeted at California governor Gavin Newsom threatening to withhold federal aid concerning the blazes, saying he “has done a terrible job of forest management.” Newsom tweeted back that since Trump does not believe in climate change, he is “excused from the conversation.” 

This is not the first time President Trump has issued this threat. In January of 2018, the president, hours after an emergency declaration to provide funds for firefighting efforts across the state, threatened to withhold funds from them, citing once again California’s “gross mismanagement” of their forests. 

Critics have cited that in actuality the federal government, not the state of California, controls the majority of the state’s forests (around 57%), and as such is responsible for their management. This would include acting on President Trump’s previous assertions that Finland prevents forest fires by raking their forest floors. 

Even as President Trump declares his intentions to remove aid from California, the band Metallica is stepping up to help relief. The band stated recently that they’ve donated $100,000 to help recovery from the fires in Northern and Southern California through their All Within My Hands non-profit. The band also did this in 2018, and played a wildfire relief concert in San Francisco in 2018. 

The band has also encouraged their fans to follow, lending their homes, money, and food supplies to those devastated by the fires.