State Watch

California to pull National Guard troops from border to fight wildfires

California will call in its National Guard to help protect communities from wildfires, including redeploying troops currently on border protection duty, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

In April, 110 troops will receive 11 days of training in thinning trees and brush, projects intended to deprive fires of fuel, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Mike Mohler told the AP.

"They will be boots on the ground ... alongside CalFire crews," Mohler said.

"We've had them out for flood fighting, several different operations, but this would be the first time their mission would be fuels thinning and forest management."

California was ravaged by deadly wildfires in 2018.

Northern California's Camp Fire in November killed more than 80 people, destroyed thousands of buildings and caused an estimated $16.5 billion in damages.

President Trump has slammed California for how it handled the wildfires, saying that "gross mismanagement" of the state's forests made the situation worse.

Trump has also threatened to withhold disaster funding until the state changes its policies.

State officials said Trump is ignoring the effects of climate change in making wildfires more deadly. But critics say the state needs to do more on forest management, including allowing more logging to prevent fires from starting.

Trump in April 2018 signed an order to authorize the deployment of National Guard troops in four states to help improve security at the southern border with Mexico.

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