An official public health emergency has been declared by federal officials in California due to the Camp and Woolsey fires that have spread across the state.
This declaration made by Alex Azar, the secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This now allows Medicare and Medi-Cal health more flexibility as they work to treat survivors and evacuees throughout California.
This announcement comes on the heels Trump’s declaration of disaster for the Butte, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties that have already been affected by the fires. Though Trump’s declaration helps those struggling with home repair and temporary housing not covered by insurance, the new announcement by the state expands on the 130,000 acres that have already been burned by the Camp Fire alone.
Countless families, pets, and farms have been forced to evacuate these counties in California due to the threat of fire. This is increasingly difficult for those who have to move 2,200-pound horses and other livestock to safe locations.
This declaration will help ensure that Americans who are threatened by these dangerous wildfires and who rely on Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program have continuous access to the care they need,” reported Azar.
“We are working closely with state health authorities and monitoring the needs of healthcare facilities to provide whatever they may need to save lives and protect health.”
These state authorities and healthcare facilities also include the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, who also announced their support for evacuees.
This is good news for the state, as a new brush fire, known as the Sierra Fire, has begun to burn in Fontana as of November 13. This fire is only 50 miles away from downtown Los Angeles and has already burned a minimum of 147 acres.
So far, it has already killed two people.
This fire is also located about 90 miles east of the Woolsey Fire, one of the three main fires that have ravaged California. The other two fires include the Camp Fire and the Hill Fire in Butte County and Ventura County respectively.
So far, the Woolsey Fire Camp Fire has burned 370 structures and still puts another 57,000 at risk as 60% of the fire remains uncontained. The Camp Fire has destroyed over 8,800 structures and is only 35% contained. Luckily, the Hill Fire has burned only 4,531 acres and is currently 92% contained.
It’s estimated that the average replacement for a vinyl window can exceed $11,000 alone. When it comes to repairing entire houses that have been burned or threatened by smoke damage, the cost of repairs is monumental.
Countless trees and plant life have also burned in the fires. While fire ecology is inherent in some parts of California, the threat of these fires surpasses any benefit fire may play in the reproductive roles of trees and other wildlife ecology. It’s estimated that a single tree can remove 26 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere in one year. As more CO2 is expended in the blaze, California’s recovery time looks grim.
So far, there are thousands of firefighters who are working to contain the blaze.
Luckily, local meteorologists expect rain by Thanksgiving which can improve the air quality of the area and aid in fire relief efforts.