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President Declares Disaster Over Thomas Fire

Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP

In this Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, flames from a back firing operation underway rise behind a home off Ladera Ln near Bella Vista Drive in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP

(AP) - President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in California over a wildfire that destroyed more than 1,000 buildings.

The White House announced Tuesday that the president has granted disaster status, which will help make federal funds available to supplement recovery efforts in the wake of the Thomas Fire that ravaged Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Gov. Jerry Brown requested the declaration last month.

Firefighting costs for the blaze have approached $200 million. Brown also noted the need to help cover immense costs expected to rebuild homes, deal with economic issues and remove vast amounts of debris.

In a visit to Ventura on Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen said the president's declaration will help residents rebuild after the fire destroyed more than 700 homes.

The fire - the largest in modern state history - is 92 percent contained.

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