Trump approves disaster funds for Thomas Fire relief

President Donald Trump issued a declaration Tuesday that a major disaster exists in California as a result of wildfires, and he approved the disbursal of federal funds to Thomas Fire relief efforts in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Federal funds will be available to eligible local governments and certain nonprofits on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in the two counties, a White House press release states. Likewise, Trump’s order makes federal funding available for hazard mitigation statewide.

Officials are continuing to assess fire damage in California, and more counties may be designated as disaster areas. Other forms of assistance may also be approved.

The Thomas Fire, which is the largest wildfire in modern California history, is still burning. As of Tuesday, the blaze has burned 281,893 acres and is 92 percent contained.

A total of 1,063 structures have been destroyed by the Thomas Fire. The firefight has cost a total of about $200 million.

On Dec. 4, the Thomas Fire ignited north of Santa Paula near highways 150 and 126. Santa Ana winds fueled the blaze, pushing it into Santa Barbara County and leading to the destruction of multiple expensive homes in Montecito.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire.