Michael Bastasch, DCNF
- President Donald Trump gave California an ultimatum over its deadly wildfire problem.
- “Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” Trump tweeted on Saturday morning.
- The federal government spent more than $1 billion fighting fires in 2017.
President Donald Trump blamed “poor” land management for the deadly wildfires consuming thousands of structures and more than 140,000 acres across California. The president also threatened to cut off federal payments if the problem isn’t fixed.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.
The cost of firefighting has increased dramatically in recent years, hitting a record $1.1 billion in 2017. Trump recently signed “fire funding fix” legislation to give federal agencies $2.25 billion to fight fires starting in 2020. That amount would increase to nearly $3 billion by 2027.
Now, Trump is threatening to restrict California’s wildfire funding if actions aren’t taken to limit fires — a problem for California Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, a Democrat.
Newsom beat Republican businessman John Cox in Tuesday’s election, and he moved quickly to ask Trump for federal assistance. Trump approved California’s disaster declaration Friday, allowing federal and state officials to coordinate more closely and free up more resources to deal with the blazes.
Firefighters are working to contain three massive blazes, including the 100,000-acre Camp Fire in Butte County. The fire has taken at least nine lives, injured three firefighters and destroyed more than 6,000 buildings.
While the cause of the fire is unknown, CBS Sacramento reported Friday night that utility PG&E may be to blame for the deadly blaze. Earlier this year, state officials blamed PG&E power lines, conductors and power poles for 12 deadly Northern California fires that raged last year.
The three fires have forced more than 250,000 people to evacuate their homes, including the roughly 30,000 residents of Paradise who saw their entire town “wiped out” in the deadly Camp Fire.
The 35,000-acre Woolsey Fire has forced thousands to evacuate, including residents of Malibu, the famous beach town. Celebrities have also been forced out of their homes as the fire spreads south.
VIDEO: @LACoFireAirOps Firehawk helicopter flying along Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu on the way to protect life and property. This is a historic event. Please follow the direction of local authorities. (Original video, ok to use with credit) @VCFD @LACoFD #WoolseyFire pic.twitter.com/SvZSfipzfk
— LACoFireAirOps (@LACoFireAirOps) November 10, 2018
Santa Ana winds are expected to continue to blow through Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles division of the National Weather Service. Gusts could be as high as 60 miles per hour over Malibu, further fanning the flames.
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