‘Shameful’: Trump’s threat to withdraw wildfire funds
The head of California’s firefighters union called Donald Trump’s threat to withhold federal funds to the state as it continues to deal with deadly wildfires “shameful” and “dangerously wrong” as the death toll rose to 11. Two more people were found dead from the wildfires in Malibu on yesterday, adding to the nine fatalities already confirmed.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” the US president 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!”
Brian Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters, responded by calling the president’s “shameful” statement an attack on the thousands of firefighters still on the front lines.
Mr Rice also said Mr Trump’s assertion that California’s forest management policies were to blame for catastrophic wildfire “dangerously wrong”.
The firefighters’ representative explained wildfires are sparked and spread “by parched vegetation, high winds, low humidity and geography”. He said natural disasters are neither red nor blue, “they destroy regardless of party”. Fires have spread across more than 100 square miles of southern California, with around 250,000 homes under evacuation orders across the region.
Firefighters have saved thousands of homes despite working in “extreme, tough fire conditions that they said they have never seen in their life”, said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby.
The flames spread so quickly through the Thousand Oaks area that residents at a mobile home for seniors in Newbury Park had no time to gather medications and documents.
Firefighters carried people from homes and put them in empty seats of their neighbours’ cars.
Firefighters tackle another blaze yesterday as the death toll reached 11 (EPA)
Firefighters plan their operations while battling the Camp Fire in Paradise, California (AP)