The Trump administration granted an emergency declaration for California’s deadly wildfires Friday, hours after media reports that the request had been denied. A rejection would have prevented hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid from being sent to the state as it grapples with the worst fires in state history. One blaze, the Creek Fire, was the biggest single wildfire ever to burn in California. Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted Friday, “Just got off phone with @realDonaldTrump who has approved our Major Disaster Declaration request. Grateful for his quick response.” Newsom had said the previous night that the state would appeal the denial.
The federal government has allowed similar declarations for California in the past, so it’s unclear why Newsom’s latest request was spurned at first. Trump has previously threatened to withhold aid because he believes California is doing a “terrible job” of managing forests. But most scientists say that climate change is the biggest driving factor in the state’s worsening wildfires. The federal government also manages 57 percent of California’s forests.