Scorched earth in Cal­i­for­nia



Pres­i­dent Trump threat­ened to with­hold fed­eral funds from Cal­i­for­nia on Satur­day as cat­a­strophic wild­fires claimed 11 lives, de­stroyed thou­sands of homes and scorched hun­dreds of square miles of land.

More than a quar­ter of a mil­lion peo­ple were forced from their homes across the Golden State as the Camp Fire in the north and two other ma­jor fires in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia burned over the week­end.

Trump took to Twit­ter to blame "gross mis­man­age­ment of the for­est" for the dev­as­ta­tion.

“There is no rea­son for these mas­sive, deadly and costly fires in Cal­i­for­nia,” he wrote, adding that “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!”

It took an­other 14 hours — un­til 5:19 p.m. Eastern Time — for the Pres­i­dent to men­tion the 11 lives re­ported lost in the dis­as­ter. He also spoke of “52,000 who have evac­u­ated” — a fig­ure far lower than the 250,000 homes un­der evac­u­a­tion or­ders.

Trump made no men­tion Satur­day of the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia town of Par­adise, which was wiped off the map by the on­go­ing blazes. The wind-whipped flames started Thurs­day and in­cin­er­ated most of the 27,000per­son town so quickly there was lit­tle fire­fight­ers could do.

State of­fi­cials and celebri­ties alike were stunned by the Pres­i­dent's Twit­ter response to the tragedy.

State of­fi­cials and celebri­ties alike were stunned by the Pres­i­dent's response to the lat­est tragedy.

“I don't ex­pect any­thing bet­ter from Trump, but this threat, is­sued as peo­ple are lit­er­ally flee­ing for their lives, can­not go unan­swered,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tweeted in response. “For those of you in the path of the fires or who have lost loved ones or your

homes, we will be there for you. Even if our Pres­i­dent is not.”

The Pres­i­dent made no men­tion of the ca­su­al­ties, or the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia town of Par­adise that was wiped off the map by the on­go­ing blazes. The wind­whipped flames started Thurs­day and in­cin­er­ated most of the 27,000-per­son town so quickly there was lit­tle fire­fight­ers could do.

Of­fi­cials found two peo­ple dead Satur­day on a sparsely pop­u­lated stretch of Mul­hol­land High­way in Mal­ibu, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber of vic­tims to 11.

Of­fi­cials warned the dev­as­ta­tion could spread.

“Winds are ex­pected to pick up again this evening into to­mor­row con­tribut­ing to an­other round of #Crit­i­calFireWeather,” tweeted LAPD Chief Michel Moore. “Be ready for the po­ten­tial of con­tin­ued and new evac­u­a­tion or­ders. If you are asked to leave. Leave.”

Fire­fight­ers have man­aged to save thou­sands of homes de­spite work­ing in "ex­treme, tough fire con­di­tions that they said they have never seen in their life," Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.

The flames licked into fa­mously ritzy coastal spots like Mal­ibu, where Lady Gaga, Kim Kar­dashian West, Guillermo del Toro and Martin Sheen were among those forced from their homes.

Osby said losses to homes were "sig­nif­i­cant" but did not say how many build­ings had burned. Of­fi­cials said ear­lier that 150 homes had been de­stroyed.

Smoke and em­bers also en­cased the town of Thou­sand Oaks, where a gun­man killed a dozen peo­ple at a lo­cal bar days ear­lier, as one of the fires crept closer.

“We've had a lot of tragedy in our com­mu­nity,” said Ven­tura County Su­per­vi­sor Linda Parks, whose dis­trict in­cludes Thou­sand Oaks. "We don't want any more. We do not want any more lives lost."

Be­fore his threat to slash money for fight­ing the fires, Trump is­sued an emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion for fed­eral funds for three coun­ties.

A lead­ing Cal­i­for­nia fire of­fi­cial called Trump's com­ments "a shame­ful at­tack on Cal­i­for­nia."

"The Pres­i­dent's as­ser­tion that Cal­i­for­nia's for­est man­age­ment poli­cies are to blame for cat­a­strophic wild­fire is dan­ger­ously wrong," Cal­i­for­nia Pro­fes­sional Fire­fight­ers Pres­i­dent Brian Rice said in a state­ment. “Wild­fires are sparked and spread not only in forested ar­eas but in pop­u­lated ar­eas and open fields fu­eled by parched veg­e­ta­tion, high winds, low hu­mid­ity and ge­og­ra­phy," he con­tin­ued in the state­ment.

Pop star Katy Perry called the com­man­der-in-chief's com­ments “heart­less.” With News Wire Ser­vices

Home in Mal­ibu (above) is re­duced to ash and rub­ble af­ter fire tore through. The same fire filled the sky (left) with smoke. Be­low, Pres­i­dent Trump said Cal­i­for­nia has only it­self to blame for the dev­as­ta­tion.

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