Trump blames 'poor forest management' for California fires

2018-11-13 06:43

US President Donald Trump has blamed what he called poor forest management for the California fires, while the state is requesting emergency aid from the Trump administration.

"This is truly a tragedy that all Californians can understand and respond to," Gov. Jerry Brown said on Sunday. "It's a time to pull together and work through these tragedies."

The governor said that the federal and state governments must do more forest management but that climate change is the greater source of the problem.

"And those who deny that are definitely contributing to the tragedies that we're now witnessing and will continue to witness in the coming years," Brown said.

The death toll from the wildfire that incinerated Paradise and surrounding areas climbed to 29 — matching the mark for the deadliest single blaze in California history — as crews continued searching for bodies in the smoldering ruins, with nearly 230 people unaccounted for.

Statewide the number of dead stood at 31, including two victims in Southern California, from wildfires raging at both ends of the state.

Ten search teams were working in Paradise — a town of 27 000 that was engulfed by flames on Thursday — and in surrounding communities in Northern California's Sierra Nevada foothills. Authorities called in a DNA lab and anthropologists to help identify what in some cases were only bones or bone fragments.

All told, more 8000 firefighters battled wildfires that scorched at least 1040 square kilometers of the state, with the flames feeding on dry brush and driven by winds that had a blowtorch effect.

Drought and warmer weather attributed to climate change, and the building of homes deeper into forests have led to longer and more destructive wildfire seasons in California. While California officially emerged from a five-year drought in 2017, much of the northern two-thirds of the state is abnormally dry.

In Southern California , firefighters beat back a new round of winds on Sunday and the fire's spread was believed to have been largely stopped, though extremely low humidity and gusty Santa Ana winds were in the forecast through at least Tuesday.

Some of the thousands of people forced from their homes were allowed to return, and authorities reopened US 101, a major freeway through the fire zone in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Malibu celebrities and mobile-home dwellers in nearby mountains were slowly learning whether their homes had been spared or reduced to ash. Two people were killed in Malibu, and the fire destroyed at least 370 or so structures, authorities said.

The fire grew to more than 370 square kilometers and was only 20 percent contained.

Celebrities whose coastal homes were damaged or destroyed or who were forced to flee expressed sympathy for the less famous and offered their gratitude to firefighters. Actor Gerard Butler said on Instagram that his Malibu home was "half-gone," adding he was "inspired as ever by the courage, spirit and sacrifice of firefighters".

In Northern California, where more than 6700 buildings have been destroyed in the blaze that obliterated Paradise, firefighters contended with wind gusts up to 64km/h overnight, the fire jumping 300 feet across Lake Oroville.

The state fire agency said on Monday that the fire had grown to 303 square kilometers and was 25 percent contained.

The magnitude of the devastation was beginning to set in even as the blaze raged on. Public safety officials toured the Paradise area to begin discussing the recovery. Much of what makes the city function was gone.

"Paradise was literally wiped off the map," said Tim Aboudara, a fireighters union representative. He said at least 36 firefighters lost their own homes, most in the Paradise area.

Others continued the desperate search for friends or relatives, calling evacuation centers, hospitals, police and the coroner's office.

Sol Bechtold drove from shelter to shelter looking for his mother, Joanne Caddy, a 75-year-old widow whose house burned down along with the rest of her neighbourhood in Magalia, just north of Paradise. She lived alone and did not drive.

As he drove through the smoke and haze to yet another shelter, he said, "I'm also under a dark emotional cloud. Your mother's somewhere and you don't know where she's at. You don't know if she's safe."

The 29 dead in Northern California matched the deadliest single fire on record, a 1933 blaze in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. A series of wildfires in Northern California's wine country last fall killed 44 people and destroyed more than 5000 homes.


Read more on:    us  |  fires
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Cluster Financial Manager

Cape Town
Network Finance
R950 000.00 - R1 000 000.00 Per Year

SQL Reporter

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.