Lawmakers discuss federal aid headed west for wildfires

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The unprecedented wave of wildfires ravaging through the West Coast has scientists seeking answers and lawmakers pushing for more aid.

Chief Scientist at the National Wildlife Federation Dr. Bruce Stein said the amount of acreage that usually burns in California each year is around 200,000 acres. In 2020, there has been more than three million acres of land in California alone that has been torched.

“What we’re seeing now is really apocalyptic in proportion,” Dr. Stein said.

In Oregon, several “mega-fires” have been burning in regions that are normally wet and not prone to fires.

FEMA quickly approved initial Emergency Declarations to provide federal funding to battle the fires.

“So many people have been evacuated or at risk of evacuation and so many towns have been destroyed,” said Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). “It’s just absolutely devastating.”

Bonamici and other lawmakers said more federal help will be needed in the aftermath of the fires. Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) said housing–specifically affordable housing–is a top priority.

“Upwards of 2,500 housing units,” Walden said when referring to how many homes were decimated. “Mostly mobile homes and low income apartments were destroyed in the Phoenix and Talent areas.

Funding for housing has already been approved for parts of California and lawmakers expect a quick approval for Oregon.

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