President Trump says more 'raking and cleaning' by forest officials can prevent wildfires
President Trump made two stops in California and met with the governor, promising that state and federal partners would 'get this cleaned up'
President Donald Trump visited Northern California on Saturday to see the extent of destruction the California wildfires had caused after leaving 71 dead and over 1,000 people missing. The Commander-in-Chief said it's time "to pull together for the people of California."
Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., and Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., accompanied Trump as he met with residents, first responders, firefighters, and FEMA officials. Before departing Washington, the President told reporters: "The first responders, they have been incredible. The firefighters have been unbelievably brave." After meeting Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, Trump is scheduled to return in the early hours of Sunday, Fox News reports.
The former real-estate mogul sparked outrage after blaming poor forest management for the raging wildfires and threatening to withhold federal payments to California. "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor," he tweeted. "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!"
While he said the "big problem we have is management", he praised the firefighters for their daring efforts during an interview with 'Fox News Sunday'. He also said that responders had to rake bushes that were completely dry and on fire.
"That should have been all raked out, you wouldn’t have the fires," he said. "You need forest management, it has to be, I’m not saying that in a negative way or positive way, I’m just saying the facts," he added.
President Trump said that "we will be talking about forest management" during the trip. "But the one thing is that everybody now knows that this is what we have to be doing, and there’s no question about it. It should have been done many years ago," he said, before saying that "everybody's on the right side."
"It's a big issue, very expensive issue but very inexpensive when you compare it to even one of these horrible fires, and we'll save a lot of lives in addition to a lot of money," he said.
The wildfire heavily damaged the outlying communities of Magalia and Concow and razed the entire town of Paradise, which has a population of 27,000. Overall, the blaze that began on November 8 destroyed over 9,800 homes and displaced over 52,000 people. It is still unclear as to what led to the fire, which is said to be 55 percent contained as of now.