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Federal, state officials tour North Bay burn zones

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Federal and state officials Wednesday morning toured areas burned by the North Bay wildfires in October and pledged a team effort in the clean-up and recovery during a brief, rain-shortened media gathering in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park.

“It’s been a rough road and a marathon, not a sprint, and we will continue to work with our federal and local agencies,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the clean-up following the destruction from the fires in California was one of the largest missions ever:

“The weight of the debris is equal to four-fifths the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge so far.”

The fires burned 245,000 acres and destroyed 8,900 structures in the state, Nielsen said:

“The impact cannot be overstated. We will be here, arms locked with our partners.”

When asked why hurricane-stricken states such as Texas and Florida received more federal money than areas affected by the California fires, Nielsen said the federal agencies are still working with state agencies:

“We are midway through the process.”

The Coffey Park and Fountaingrove neighborhoods in Santa Rosa and the Mark West Larkfield-Wikiup area of Sonoma County north of Santa Rosa sustained the worst of the fire damage. More than 5,100 homes were destroyed in Sonoma County and 40 people died in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties.

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