Fires

Calaveras County approved for federal disaster aid

Debra Kenyon chokes back tears as she fears her home in Mokelumne Hill was burned down by the Butte Fire while sleeping in a tent at the evacuation center at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds in Angels Camp, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.
Debra Kenyon chokes back tears as she fears her home in Mokelumne Hill was burned down by the Butte Fire while sleeping in a tent at the evacuation center at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds in Angels Camp, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. lsterling@sacbee.com

Calaveras County is now eligible for federal disaster assistance after President Barack Obama on Wednesday added the jurisdiction to the presidential disaster declaration for the Valley and Butte fires.

The two wildfires rank among the most destructive in California history. The Valley fire in Lake County has consumed 76,067 acres and was 87 percent contained as of Thursday night. The blaze destroyed 1,910 structures.

Meanwhile, the Butte fire in Calaveras and Amador counties has charred 70,868 acres and was 91 percent contained as of Thursday night. It has destroyed or damaged 860 structures.

Officials have been particularly concerned about the recovery efforts for Lake and Calaveras counties, which are saddled with relatively low incomes and high unemployment. Tourism could suffer, and the destruction of homes could force residents to move out.

Gov. Jerry Brown had requested declarations for the Valley and Butte fires. In his letter to Obama on Monday, Brown said four years of drought and multiple disasters in the past year had depleted state resources.

Both requests were approved by the president.

Affected residents can call 800-621-3362 to register for federal aid.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang

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