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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 23, 1996


President Clinton today declared an emergency exists in the State of California and ordered federal funds to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe fires beginning on October 21, 1996.

"Due to the devastating effects of the Southern California fires, I am declaring that a major emergency exists in the state of California. As a result, federal funds will begin to flow immediately to the people and communities of California affected by this tragedy," said President Clinton.

"James Lee Witt, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will travel to Southern California to see the damage first hand and to ensure a prompt response to this terrible disaster. Secretary of the Interior Babbitt has already visited the fire sites. Today, federal firefighters have joined with state and local forces to form a human firewall from Malibu to the Mexican border. Working together, we will extinguish the flames and rebuild our communities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Southern California," said President Clinton.

The President's action makes federal funding available to the counties of Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego. Specifically, the declaration provides funding for disaster housing, debris removal, and emergency protective measures.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is continuing to conduct damage surveys and additional designations may be made after the assessments are completed.