Trump blames ‘gross mismanagement’ for deadly California wildfires


President Trump early Saturday blamed the fast-growing California wildfires on “gross mismanagement” of the state’s forests, threatening to withdraw federal funding.

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted from Paris early Saturday morning. “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!”

Trump’s first comments about the massive wildfires came hours after he declared a state of emergency for California, allowing federal assistance to supplement local response as three major wildfires burn across the state.

State officials late Friday announced that at least nine people have died in a deadly Northern California blaze, dubbed the Camp Fire. The flames incinerated most of Paradise, Calif., destroying 6,453 homes and another 260 commercial structures, according to The Associated Press.{mosads}

Meanwhile, separate fires in Southern California prompted evacuation orders for more than 200,000 people. In Los Angeles County, the 35,000-acre Woolsey Fire threatened 75,000 homes early Saturday, Reuters reported. The smaller Hill Fire in Ventura County had burned about 6,000 acres as of Friday evening, Cal Fire officials told the outlet.

Officials have not publicly stated a cause for what sparked the Southern California fire, though strong winds have been widely blamed for stoking the fire through the area’s canyon and ridgetop communities, the AP noted.

Firefighter radio transmissions reviewed by Bay Area News Group suggested Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) power lines may have started the Camp Fire, The Mercury News reported. 

PG&E, in a filing Friday to California’s Public Utilities Commission, acknowledged that it had detected a  transmission line outage about 15 minutes before the blaze was reported, according to Mercury News. The filing notes that PG&E discovered damage to a transmission tower on that line “in the area of the Camp Fire,” the outlet reported.

PG&E said late Friday that it would cooperate with any investigations stemming from the Northern California fire. A spokeswoman for the utility told the AP Friday that the information was preliminary, adding that the cause of the blaze has not been determined.

–This report was updated on Nov. 11 at 8:37 a.m.

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