The Trump administration has declared a disaster for California in the midst of the state's battle with more than a dozen wildfires, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday.
He made the declaration in a briefing at the Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services.
"This declaration will allow FEMA to identifiy, mobilize and provide additional equipment and resources to assist with the emergency," Pence said.
At least 17 people are dead — a fact that Pence called "heartbreaking" — and authorities said they expect that number could rise.
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The vice president said President Donald Trump asked Pence to go to California and said the federal government will work with the officials already tackling the deadly blazes springing up in wine country and in Southern California.
For his part, President Trump said he spoke Monday night with California Gov. Jerry Brown to "let him know that the federal government will stand with the people of California. And we will be there for you in this time of terrible tragedy and need."