Congressman Brad Sherman wants to have the areas in the San Fernando Valley damaged by wildfires be declared federal disaster areas. So far, two letters to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asking him to seek the disaster designation from the Bush Administration have not been answered, Sherman told a group of about 30 people at lunch hosted by the Valley Industry & Commerce Association. The designation would allow residents with damaged homes to apply for federal assistance for repairs and temporary housing, for Small Business Administration Disaster Loans, and for state and local governments to repair damaged infrastructure. Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency for the portions of Los Angeles and Ventura counties hit by the wildfires. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved of two grants to reimburse the state for the cost to fight the fires. Although the fires were several miles apart, it was important to view them as one disaster because of how strong Santa Ana winds made the flames spread so quickly, Sherman said. As of Wednesday afternoon, about 18,000 acres have been burned and 49 structures damaged in the Sesnon fire in the Porter Ranch area and the Marek fire in the Sylmar area in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest. Firefighters were helped by diminishing Santa Ana winds. Two people have been killed in the fires. The cost to date of fighting the Sesnon fire is $2.5 million and fire officials are looking at downed power lines as a possible cause, the Los Angeles Times reported.