Finland's president to Donald Trump: We don't rake forests

Hannah Rogers
November 19, 2018

President Trump took a helicopter tour Saturday over the Northern California landscape scorched by a killer wildfire.

They were met on the tarmac by Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, both of them Democrats in a state that leans strongly that way.

At least 300 people who fled the Camp Fire were sheltering on Friday in the flood-prone parking lot of a Walmart in Chico, about 24 km west of where the blaze consumed the mountain town of Paradise on November 8.

The walled-off villas of the rich, however, burned just as quickly as the RVs and small homes torched up north. Trump, a real estate billionaire, was aghast as he surveyed the devastation, framed by the Pacific Ocean and the southern California hills.

On Sunday, in California, Trump again expressed surprise that it looked so different to what he had been seeing on TV. He beat Hillary Clinton by 4 percentage points in Butte County in 2016.

But Trump has stirred resentment among survivors over comments he made two days after the disaster on Twitter, then reiterated on the eve of his visit.

"I think people have to see this really to understand it", Mr Trump said.

"We're going to have that, and we're going to have forests that are very safe, because we can't go through this every year".

"There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor", Trump tweeted, threatening to cut off federal funding for forest management. "You're not going to have a parade", Maggie Crowder of Magalia said this week outside an informal shelter at a Walmart store in Chico.

But Stacy Lazzarino, who voted for Mr Trump, said it would be good for the president to see the devastation up close, adding: "I think by maybe seeing it he's going to be like "Oh, my goodness", and it might start opening people's eyes".

So far 76 people have been killed in the California wildfires, making the blazes the deadliest in state history.

In Northern California, Trump continued to show skepticism about the impact of climate change on wildfires. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) Downed power lines and debris are seen along Mulholland Highway in the aftermath of the Woolsey fire in Malibu, Southern California, U.S. November 11, 2018.

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Paul Briones, a firefighter from Bakersfield, predicted Trump's visit would be a huge boost to the community, showing "that this on a national level is a priority".

The Camp Fire has burned 146,000 acres (59,000 hectares) and was 50 percent contained by Friday, California's fire service said. The National Weather Service said the area could get 20 miles per hour sustained winds and 40 miles per hour gusts, which could make it hard for crews to keep making progress against the blaze.

Dan Newman, a team captain with the Butte County Sheriff's search and rescue team, said he originally was tasked with going door to door to alert people in the community of Concow to the fire.

Referring to forest management and environmental policy "I think we're all on the same path".

Some of the people among the ever-evolving tally have been confirmed as dead by family and friends on social media. But Honea acknowledged the list was "dynamic" and could easily contain duplicate names and unreliable spellings of names.

Authorities attribute the high death toll from the blaze - dubbed the "Camp Fire" - partly to the speed with which flames raced through the town with little warning, driven by howling winds and fuelled by drought-affected scrub and trees.

The names were being compiled from information received from a special hotline, along with email reports and a review of emergency 911 calls that came in on the first night of the fire, Mr Honea said. Trump promised federal funds and says he has some ideas.

"I would have said, 'Give help to the people - we are the richest country on the planet, '" McCrary said.

Seventy-one people have died in the fire and more than 1,000 are reported missing.

Authorities say they have enough shelter space to provide a bed for everyone who wants one, but they acknowledge challenges ahead in finding more long-term housing for the displaced.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" airing Sunday that the Republican president has "got our back" and has pledged to continue to help.

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