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California governor acts to advance wildfire recovery

July 2, 2022 GMT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed states of emergency in Santa Barbara and Monterey counties on Friday to help the process of recovery from recent wildfires.

The proclamations allow the California Department of Transportation to request immediate federal assistance for highway repairs or reconstruction required after the Alisal Fire in Santa Barbara County and the Colorado Fire in Monterey County.

The Alisal Fire erupted on Oct. 11, 2021, in the Santa Ynez Mountains and shut down U.S. 101 for several days. The Colorado Fire broke out Jan. 21 in Palo Colorado Canyon on the Big Sur coast, shutting down Highway 1.

The Santa Barbara County proclamation also directs the state Office of Emergency Services to assist recovery efforts there, and includes a provision to ease access to unemployment benefits for those unemployed as a result of the Alisal Fire.

For other wildfires, Newsom also signed an executive order extending various prohibitions on price gouging in Butte, El Dorado and Plumas counties through Sept. 30.

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Cal Fire said that the largest current wildland blaze, the Rices Fire in Nevada County, had destroyed 13 buildings, including five homes, and injured 14 firefighters and a civilian. At least some of those injuries were heat-related problems. Cal Fire didn’t mention the conditions of the injured.

The fire had threatened hundreds of homes but by Friday night it had stopped growing and the figure was down to just 10 homes with the blaze 24% contained, Cal Fire said.