For weeks now, several wildfires have been burning in both the northern and southern parts of California. On Saturday, Nov. 17, President Trump met with survivors, and visited areas where the fire has already done major damage. As of now, 76 people have been killed in the Camp Fire of Northern California and with 1,300 people reported missing, that number is expected to rise. The Camp Fire has been labeled the deadliest destructive fire in California’s history.
Trump’s first stop was in the town of Paradise, California. Essentially, every part of the town was touched by the fire, leaving behind only partial structures of what used to be.
“Hopefully this is going to be the last of these, because this was a really, really bad one. Right now, we want to take care of the people who have been so badly hurt,” said Trump when visiting a recreational vehicle park. “Nobody would have ever thought this could happen.”
Traveling along with Trump as he traced the wildfire’s path were the Mayor of Paradise Jody Jones, California Governor Jerry Brown, Lieutenant Governor and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom and Brock Long, who is the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator.
As requests for federal funds came in, the Trump administration granted access to a presidential emergency declaration, which was placed into effect to disperse federal funds to aid in battling the fires.
Approval of the requests came as a surprise as Trump expressed his thoughts in a widely-circulated tweet on how the fires came to be. “
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted, threatening to cut off federal funding for forest management. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”
His tweet was met with criticism from all over the globe. Many readers could not understand how the president could place blame on the occurrence of a natural phenomenon.
Even after his visit to Paradise and the surrounding areas, the president stayed firm in his belief that the management of the forest needs to be improved. When asked if he considered climate change as a contributing factor to the fires, he responded with “I think you have a lot of factors,” before circling back to the subject of forest management. He said that forest mismanagement seems to be a “very big problem.” He also maintained that the fire did not change his mind on climate change.
However, Trump did give praise to the first responders of California State, saying “They’re out there fighting and they’re fighting like hell … It’s like total devastation.”
Since becoming president, this is Trump’s second visit to California. His arrival was met by some holding welcoming signs and other residents toting signs of protest.