Trump Blames California Wildfires on Poor Environmental Laws

Hannah Rogers
August 7, 2018

NOAH BERGER via Getty Images Flames leap above a vehicle on High Valley Road as the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, burns near Clearlake Oaks, California, on Sunday.

The Ranch Fire was just 22 percent contained, and the River Fire was 50 percent contained.

Crews did make progress over the weekend against one of the two blazes in the Mendocino Complex with help from water-dropping aircraft, Cal Fire operations chief Charlie Blankenheim said in a video on Facebook.

A combination of wildfires raging north of San Francisco, which already has consumed an area nearly as big as Los Angeles, is on pace to become the largest in California history, fire officials said.

Republican lawmakers in California's agriculture-rich Central Valley complain the state and federal governments allow too much of the state's rainfall and snow melt to flow naturally through rivers and into the Pacific Ocean, instead of being diverted for irrigation.

Mr McLean said: "I can remember a couple of years ago when we saw 10 to 12,000 firefighters in the states of California, Oregon and Washington and never the 14,000 we see now".

Nor is having enough water a problem in battling California wildfires in general.

"Fire season is really just beginning", Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said, explaining that such intense conditions used to come around the peak of the season. "Must also clear trees to stop fire spreading". Jerry Brown called for aid from the Trump administration.

He was the seventh person to die in that blaze, which has scorched more than 160,000 acres (64,750 hectares) in the scenic Shasta-Trinity region north of Sacramento, including two young children and their great-grandmother whose home was overrun by flames, and two firefighters.

A 2016 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that climate change was responsible for more than half of the documented increases in fuel aridity in western forests and had doubled the amount of land burned since 1984.

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California currently has 21 fires burning, with the Carr Fire near Redding now ranking as the state's 15th largest in wildfire history after burning 154,524 acres, according to Cal Fire.

As for the "bad environmental laws", it's unclear whether Trump means California laws or federal laws.

President Trump blamed environmental laws yesterday for intensifying wildfires in California, in his first tweet about the ongoing disaster that has killed at least seven people.

A new fire erupted Monday in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, and prompted the evacuation of two canyons and some campgrounds as it expanded into the Cleveland National Forest.

Farther north, crews gained ground against a deadly blaze that has destroyed more than 1,000 homes in and around Redding.

It has burned approximately 273,664 acres, and grew around 70 percent over the weekend.

The fire has now spread to more than 163,000 acres and is only 45 percent contained, according to the department.

Overall, experts say Trump's Twitter remarks ignore two of the biggest factors in the wildfires: Climate change, which is likely exacerbating the droughts that lead to fires, and increased development near forests that makes the fires more risky to life and property.

According to Daniel Ramey, the PIO for Peardale Chicago Park Fire, "The team has seen a large amount of wildlife in the area - elks, coyotes, rabbits, deer, eagles etc".

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