Remarks by Vice President Mike Pence After Briefing on California Wildfires
Sacramento Office of Emergency Services
Rancho Cordova, California
10:19 A.M. PDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, first off, let me just say how proud all of America is of the California Office of Emergency Services. The efforts of the men and women in this room, the efforts of the first responders that you're supporting and coordinating are at this very moment saving lives.
And I stand here on behalf of our President and on behalf of a grateful nation for all the work that California OES is doing for the people of these communities affected by these wildfires.
I want to thank the director, Mark Ghilarducci. I want to thank General Dave Baldwin, and with Cal Fire, your director Ken Pimlott.
I've just received a briefing on the status of the wildfires affecting California -- 17 wildfires burning across Northern California alone; additional fires, as we saw from afar, in Southern California yesterday.
Most heartbreakingly, we were informed that 13 people have lost their lives as these fires have moved so rapidly forward. More than 2,000 homes and businesses destroyed, tens and thousands of more in harm's way.
Let me first say our hearts, and the hearts of every American, go out to the families of the 13 who have lost their lives. It's heartbreaking to think that many of the fallen represent our most vulnerable, in some cases senior citizens who simply were not able to escape the flames that overcame their homes. They're in our prayers.
We're profoundly grateful to all of you in this room and to the hands and feet of the men and women who are working in emergency services all across the areas affected by these fires. I know the focus now is on containment and on moving people out of harm's way, and we're grateful for the efforts.
And let me say, as I told Ken Pimlott moments ago, we are profoundly inspired and grateful by the firefighters that are in the fight, in many cases men and women whose own homes have been affected by these wildfires. Cal Fire is inspiring the nation, and we stand with them with great admiration and appreciation.
Just a few moments ago, I informed Governor Brown that President Trump has approved a major disaster declaration for the state of California to assist in the response to wildfires that are impacting across the state. This declaration will allow FEMA to identify, mobilize, and provide additional equipment and resources to assist with the emergencies. This includes debris removal, emergency protective measures, search-and-rescue operations.
I'm pleased to report our administration has already been working with the team here at Cal OES to provide support -- even before this declaration -- of five firefighting crews, four dozers, two Strike Teams [of] Type-III engines, and more assets are on the way.
I’m joined today by California’s own Majority Leader in the Congress of the United States, Kevin McCarthy, and Congressman Jeff Denham. And I'm pleased to report that legislation that will be considered in the House of Representatives next week already includes $576 million for wildfire suppression to support the people of California and the efforts that you’re coordinating in this room.
You know, it’s been a challenging month for the American people -- a month and a half of natural disasters all across our country. But President Trump asked me to come here this morning to assure the people of California that we will continue to work very closely with Governor Brown, with the state of California, and with each one of you to support your courageous first responders and come alongside the families affected through loss of persons and property in the wake of these wildfires.
To California, we say through this declaration: We are with you, our prayers are with you, and we will be with you every day until we put the fires out and stand with these families to rebuild these communities. That’s our pledge to each one of you today.
So thank you. God bless you for your work. And we stand with you until the job is done. (Applause.)
10:24 A.M. PDT