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Feds approve $20 million for relief in wake of Valley and Butte fires

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Federal disaster relief officials have approved more than $20 million in aid for victims of Lake County’s catastrophic Valley fire as well as the Butte fire that burned through Calaveras County in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

The state Office of Emergency Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration approved the funds, allocating about half to businesses and half to residents.

The approval, announced by FEMA on Friday, provides another gauge of the devastation the two Northern California wildfires wrought six weeks ago. The Sept. 9 Butte fire killed two people and destroyed nearly 500 homes as it ripped through 70,000 acres in the Sierra foothills.

After its ignition on Sept. 12, the 76,000-acre Valley fire killed four people and destroyed 1,280 homes, 27 multifamily structures and 66 commercial structures.

More than 3,300 people have received assistance at federal disaster recovery centers that were opened in Lake and Calaveras counties following the two wildfires, which collectively burned nearly 230 square miles.

The Small Business Administration has approved more than $10.3 million in low-interest disaster loans to businesses, nonprofit agencies, homeowners and renters.

The remaining $9.4 million was approved by FEMA for individuals, including $6.4 million in housing assistance funds and $3.3 million for other needs.

Inspectors have made 2,671 home inspections, which is about 99 percent of those required so far.

For information about federal assistance for California wildfire victims, visit FEMA.gov/DRC or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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