As Californians combat three major forest fires Trump takes to Twitter to blame the state for forest mismanagement and threatens to withdraw federal funding. The president is once again misinformed as these are urban interface fires and have nothing to do with forest management. These statements prompted California Firefighters Union President to call Trump “an idiot“.
In addition to the deaths associated with the most recent spate of fires in the state there has been an unprecedented amount of property destruction. In the face of the the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history, Trump is blaming the state of California. The president seems to like to kick people when they are down. He attacked politicians in Puerto Rico and Florida when they were dealing with devastating hurricanes. As Trump politicizes the devastation Californians are contending with death and destruction.
Although some people have been allowed to return to their neighborhoods in Southern California the threat continues. A flare-up in Santa Monica Mountains was beaten back, however, the fire in Ventura and Los Angeles is only about 40 percent contained as progress combating the blaze is being hampered by Santa Anna winds. At its height as many as a quarter of a million people were under evacuation orders.
At least two people succumbed to the Woolsey fire and almost 500 buildings are known to have been destroyed so far. A total of 152 square miles have been scorched by the fire including 80 percent of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
In Northern California the situation is even worse with at least 48 people confirmed dead due to the Camp Fire that decimated the town of Paradise making it the deadliest fire in the state’s history. More than 200 people are missing suggesting the death toll may rise. To add to the tragic loss of life this is also the most destructive fire ever in California. A total of 8,800 buildings have been destroyed thus far and 52,000 residents have been forced to evacuate. The Camp Fire was 35 percent contained as of Tuesday November 13th.
Although Trump approved a disaster declaration he also threatened to cut off federal aid due to what he called poor forest management. Trump’s recent misinformed comments about California fires are not new. During California’s wave of wildfires in August Trump stated “bad environmental laws” have “magnified” the disaster and “made [it] so much worse.”
“California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!” Trump said. This is simply not true. A lack of water was not the cause.
In response to Trump’s tweets in August the California Firefighters Union president called the president’s remarks “dangerously wrong,” adding that most California forests are under federal management and “it is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management.”
What the president refuses to acknowledge is the fact that climate change is making summers hotter and drier than they otherwise would be. The scientific evidence connecting heat to wildfires is incontrovertible. Six of California’s ten most destructive wildfires on record have occurred in the past three years.
The GOP’s climate denial makes it hard to find a solution to the problem of global warming related disasters like wildfires. Trump has demonstrated his incompetence in his response to hurricanes, he has also demonstrated that he is equally ignorant about wildfires.
Update: As of November 16 at least 63 civilians are known to have been killed by the Camp Fire and 10,321 structures have been destroyed. Three people are also known to have died during the Woolsey Fire near Malibu.
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