Trump blames mis­man­age­ment of forests, threat­ens to stop fed­eral fund­ing

New Straits Times - - WORLD -

TWO mon­ster wild­fires burned out of con­trol yes­ter­day in north­ern and south­ern Cal­i­for­nia, hav­ing al­ready killed at least nine peo­ple and forced hun­dreds of thou­sands to flee their homes.

Pres­i­dent Donald Trump blamed the fires on for­est mis­man­age­ment and threat­ened to with­draw fed­eral fund­ing.

In Los An­ge­les County, the 14,164ha Woolsey Fire was threat­en­ing 75,000 homes and more than 200,000 peo­ple were evac­u­ated early yes­ter­day.

Some of the evac­u­a­tion or­ders were for res­i­dents within the City of Los An­ge­les in the West Hills area. It was un­clear how many homes have been evac­u­ated within the City of Los An­ge­les.

About 800km to the north, nine peo­ple were found dead in and around the town here, where more than 6,700 homes and busi­nesses were razed by the Camp Fire.

“This event was the worst-case sce­nario. It was what we have feared for a long time,” Butte County Sher­iff Kory Honea said.

“Re­gret­tably, not ev­ery­body made it out.”

Trump yes­ter­day tweeted that “gross mis­man­age­ment of forests” was to blame for the two unchecked wild­fires.

“There is no rea­son for th­ese mas­sive, deadly and costly for­est fires in Cal­i­for­nia ex­cept that for­est man­age­ment is so poor,” he wrote in a Twit­ter post.

“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!” he added.

The re­mains of five of the vic­tims in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia were dis­cov­ered in or near burned out cars, three out­side res­i­dences and one in­side a home, Butte County’s Honea said.

An­other 35 peo­ple had been re­ported miss­ing and three fire­fight­ers had been in­jured.

The flames de­scended here so quickly that many peo­ple were forced to aban­don their cars and run for their lives down the sole road through the moun­tain town.

The Camp Fire, which broke out on Thurs­day at the edge of the Plumas Na­tional For­est north­east of Sacra­mento, has since black­ened more than 36,421ha and was only five per cent con­tained as of Fri­day.

The Woolsey Fire broke out on Thurs­day and quickly jumped the 101 Free­way, a ma­jor north-south artery, in sev­eral places.

On Fri­day, it moved over the Santa Mon­ica Moun­tains to­ward Mal­ibu, where flames driven by hot Santa Ana winds gust­ing up to 80kph raced down hill­sides and through canyons to­ward multi-mil­lion dol­lar homes.

Thou­sands took to the Pa­cific Coast High­way to head south or took refuge on beaches, along with their horses and other pets.

Among those forced to flee were celebri­ties Lady Gaga and Kim Kar­dashian, who said on Twit­ter that flames had dam­aged the home she shares in nearby Cal­abasas with Kanye West.

In Los An­ge­les, an­other smaller fire in Grif­fith Park forced the Los An­ge­les Zoo to evac­u­ate show birds and some pri­mates on Fri­day as flames came within less than 3km of the fa­cil­ity.


(Right) A woman re­act­ing as the Woolsey Fire burns in Mal­ibu, Cal­i­for­nia, on Fri­day. (In­set) Fire­fight­ers try­ing to put out a burn­ing res­i­den­tial unit in Mal­ibu.

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