President Donald Trump is threatening to withhold federal payments to California, claiming its forest management is “so poor.”
Trump says Saturday via Twitter that “there is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly fires in California.” Trump says “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!”
The comments were Trump’s first about massive wildfires, including a blaze that incinerated most of the Northern California town of Paradise and killed at least nine people.
Wildfires also raged in Southern California, including the town of Thousand Oaks, where a gunman days earlier killed a dozen people at a local bar.
Trump earlier issued an emergency declaration providing federal funds to help firefighters.
The California Professional Firefighters President Brian Rice responded by calling Trump’s words an ill-informed and ill-timed attack towards the victims and firefighters on the front lines.
Rice added a call for support in a statement released Saturday afternoon:
“Natural disasters are not “red” or “blue” – they destroy regardless of party. Right now, families are in mourning, thousands have lost homes, and a quarter-million Americans have been forced to flee. At this desperate time, we would encourage the president to offer support in word and deed, instead of recrimination and blame.”