CLAREMONT, Calif. – The Southern California wildfires on Friday brought together Gov. Gray Davis (search) and Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger (search), who toured a one-stop disaster relief center for people burned out of their homes.
Davis said for the next two weeks he will work with Schwarzenegger to work toward a "seamless transition" and to help fire victims.
"For the next two weeks before Gov-elect Schwarzenegger takes over we are going to do everything possible to put victims back on their feet," Davis said.
About 5,400 people already have applied for assistance and more than $100,000 has been doled out to victims.
"Clearly, a lot more money is going to go out the door," Davis said.
Schwarzenegger recounted a recent tour of the San Bernardino Mountains (search), where he met with about 400 firefighters before they returned to work.
"It was a very special moment for me because those firefighters are true heroes," he said.
People applying for assistance at the Alexander Hughes Community Center (search) on Friday were outnumbered by those coming for a glimpse of the ousted Democratic governor and his action-star Republican replacement.
"It's a diversion," said Merlin Duvall, who fled his home of seven years in the Claremont neighborhood of Palmer Canyon (search) with only two blankets, a pillow and some documents. "It gives me something to think about other than what I lost."
It took Duvall, 59, several hours to navigate his way through the different agencies set up to help people get back on their feet.
He had talked to the Lions Club, the Red Cross, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (search).
"All they can do is deal with immediate housing and money," he said. "As far as getting your life back, that's a personal thing."
Davis said he and Schwarzenegger had discussed the millions of trees that have been killed by a bark-beetle infestation and have helped fuel the fires. He said they agreed that more money is needed to remove the trees.
State officials have said they need $450 million to clear beetle-killed trees across Southern California. Congress has appropriated $43 million but the Bush administration rebuffed state requests for additional federal funding last week, just as the fires flared up.
When asked about the issue, Schwarzenegger said, "I don't think it's the time now to be pointing fingers at anybody. When this is over there will be plenty of time for finger-pointing."
Davis said there was still time to get money to California to remove these trees, which continue to threaten the state.
"They will go up like a roman candle. They will go up again at some point," he said.
Davis said the fires were expected to be contained in about a week, and called on Californians to donate money to victims.