In a series of tweets Saturday, Trump said the state’s deadly wildfires are a result of “poor” forest management and threatened to cut federal aid.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump 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!”
He doubled down Sunday in another tweet, again blaming forest management.
“With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get smart!” Trump tweeted.
Official: Tweet is ‘ill-informed’
Trump’s first tweet drew the ire of the leaders of firefighters’ organizations, who accused the President of bringing politics into a devastating disaster.
The Camp Fire in Northern California has killed 23 people and burned 108,000 acres. The Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles has scorched 83,275 acres, and the Hill fire in Ventura County 4,531 acres.
“His comments are reckless and insulting to the firefighters and people being affected,” said Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
The president of the California Professional Firefighters said the message is an attack on some of the people fighting the devastating fires.
“The President’s message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines,” Brian K. Rice said.
“In my view, this shameful attack on California is an attack on all our courageous men and women on the front lines.”
Rice also said Trump’s assertion that California’s forest management policies are to blame “is dangerously wrong.”
“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 said.
‘Fires do not respect politics’
State Sen. Henry Stern, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said fires aren’t about politics or jurisdictions.
“Fires do not respect politics, though, so I would beg the President to pursue a major disaster declaration and not make this a political incident,” Stern said. “We have many parties, many views out here, and it’s really not about politics, it is about people.”
A number of celebrities also responded to Trump’s tweet Saturday.
“This is an absolutely heartless response,” singer Katy Perry tweeted. “There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters.”
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio also weighed in, blaming the fires on climate change.
“The reason these wildfires have worsened is because of climate change and a historic drought,” he tweeted. “Helping victims and fire relief efforts in our state should not be a partisan issue.”
In between Trump’s tweets blaming forest management, he also paid tribute to those affected by the fire.
“More than 4,000 are fighting the Camp and Woolsey Fires in California that have burned over 170,000 acres,” Trump tweeted. “Our hearts are with those fighting the fires … The destruction is catastrophic. God Bless them all.”