California saw worst year of wildfires ever in 2018, federal report says

California saw worst year of wildfires ever in 2018, federal report says

The area burned by California's deadly wildfires last year surpassed the state's previous record by about a half-million acres, making 2018 the worst year on record for wildfires in the state, according to a new federal report.

The report from the National Interagency Coordination Center, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, found that 1.8 million acres of land in California was burned by wildfires last year, up from 1.3 million acres the year before.

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The fires killed more than 100 people in 2018 and burned tens of thousands of homes and businesses.

Whole towns were forced to evacuate last year as authorities attempted to battle major blazes such as the Camp Fire in the northern part of the state, which was the deadliest and costliest fire in the state's history.

Scott McLean, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told the Times that the 2018 record represented “the highest [amount of damage] in the recorded history of California.”

“It’s a surprise it’s that amount, but in a sense because of what I’ve seen over the last year, no it’s not,” he said. “It’s what we’ve been living through.”

Cal Fire, which is the state's largest agency dealing with wildfires and forest management, reportedly released a plan this week that names numerous forest management projects officials are hoping will stave off major wildfires in 2019.

“It’s not going to stop when we complete these projects,” McLean told the Times. “This program has to continue forever. It’s an ongoing process from here on out.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE made headlines last year when he blamed the devastation on poor forest management on the part of California officials.

Trump claimed he had ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cease aid to wildfire-damaged regions of the state, but FEMA said the agency never received an order to halt aid to Californians.