Valley Wildfire in California is Among the State’s Most Devastating

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Hundreds of homes were consumed amid chaotic evacuations as parts of Northern California exploded in fire over the weekend.

Valley fire (as of Tuesday, 6:45 a.m.)

  • 67,000 acres burned
  • 15% contained
  • 13,000 people displaced
  • 9,000 structures threatened
  • 585 homes destroyed
  • 2.362 fire workers
  • 4 injured firefighters
  • 1 confirmed death

Butte fire (as of Tuesday, 6:45 a.m.)

  • 71,660 acres burned
  • 37% contained
  • 10,000 people displaced
  • 6,400 structures threatened
  • 166 homes, 116 outbuildings destroyed
  • 4,668 fire workers
  • 6,000 homes evacuated
5:53 P.M.

Farmers impacted by wildfires eligible for federal assistance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is ready to help farmers and ranchers in areas affected by the recent wildfires with their recovery. The Farm Service Agency will assist those who lost livestock, grazing land, fences or eligible trees, bushes and vines as a result of a natural disaster, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the agency.

Funding and technical assistance to help rehabilitate farmland and carry out emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought is also available, the agency said.

In addition to California, wildfires have ravaged parts of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington in recent months. According to the agriculture department, fire seasons are 78 days longer today than they were in the 1970s. This year, there have been more than 46,000 fires and since 2000, at least 10 states have had their largest fires on record, the agency said.

3:56 P.M.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein calls for changes to the way federal government funds wildfire efforts

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With 12 major fires raging throughout the state, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that the way the federal government pays for wildfire suppression exacerbates the problem.

“California is suffering from one of the worst fire seasons in decades,” she said in a statement . “Unfortunately, the way we pay for firefighting activities worsens the situation.”

Feinstein noted that the U.S. Forest Service will borrow $700 million this year to fight fires that are currently burning, siphoning funds away from prevention efforts like removing brush and dead trees.

“This approach means California and other Western states will be even more vulnerable to devastating wildfires next year as vital prevention programs are delayed, sometimes indefinitely.”

Feinstein says she supports a recently introduced bill that would allow firefighting to be funded more like hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters that are given unlimited money once spending hits a certain threshold.

“No one should have to worry about getting an appropriation of additional funding to fight fires in the driest conditions in 500 years,” Feinstein said.

Earlier in the day, the Obama administration announced that it was directing $250 million in additional funds to help fight the fires in California , in addition to the $450 million already transferred from the federal budget this year.

Administration officials also called on Congress to treat wildfires as natural disasters.

3:50 P.M.

’30 years of memories gone’ in Valley fire

Jay Albertson returned to his home near Hidden Valley Lake hoping to find his cat, Blue. Instead, what greeted him was a sheet of rubble–the remains of the home that he and his wife, Bonnie, built three decades ago in a secluded gateD community.

“This is 30 years of memories gone,” said a visibly emotional Albertson. “This is a chapter of our lives that is gone forever.”

Albertson was among evacuees who law enforcement escorted back to their properties on Tuesday to examine the status of their homes. They were given just 10 minutes to conduct a preliminary review.

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