SONORA -- President Obama on Friday declared a major disaster in California as a result of the Rim Fire that burned for more than two months, ravaging 400 square miles of the state.
The declaration means that federal funding will now be available to state and local governments and some private nonprofit groups for repairs or replacement of facilities damaged in Tuolomne County, home to the northern part of Yosemite National Park.
In November, FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate originally declined to extend a major disaster declaration, writing in a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown that the fire's damage was not severe enough to require federal aid.
Obama's declaration comes in response to an appeal, filed by Brown, that estimated the costs of the damage at more than $54 million.