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Trump threatens to withhold federal funding over California wildfires

Posted: 8:50 AM, Nov 10, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-11 13:29:09Z

President Donald Trump Saturday threatened to withhold federal aid from California to assist with relief from wildfires burning up and down the state.

Trump blamed the state's "poor" forest management for the devastation caused by the wildfires.

"There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. 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 tweeted.

Later Saturday, California Professional Firefighters responded, calling the president's assertion that forest management is to blame is "dangerously wrong." Instead, they blamed the federal government for mismanagement.

"The president’s assertion that California’s forest management policies are to blame for catastrophic wildfire is dangerously wrong. Wildfires are sparked and spread not only in forested areas but in populated areas and open fields fueled by parched vegetation, high winds, low humidity and geography," a statement read. "Moreover, nearly 60 percent of California forests are under federal management, and another two-thirds under private control. It is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management, not California."

Governor-elect Gavin Newsom also responded, saying "this is not the time for partisanship."

"Lives have been lost. Entire towns have been burned to the ground. Cars abandoned on the side of the road. People are being forced to flee their homes. This is not a time for partisanship. This is a time for coordinating relief and response and lifting those in need up."

It's the first comment by the president on any of California's major wildfires since the Camp Fire sparked, which has become the state's most destructive wildfire since record-keeping began. That fire has charred more than 105,000 acres, killed 23 people and injured at least three firefighters.

The town of Paradise has been virtually wiped off the map, leaving about 80 percent of the town lost, according to firefighters.

California requested Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday to issue an emergency declaration in order to receive federal aid for the Camp Fire and other fires around the state.

Saturday wasn't the first time the president took aim at California over wildfires. In August, he said claimed wildfires were being made worse due to the states environmental laws.

"California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire from spreading!" Trump tweeted in August.