Trump visits fire-wracked California, blames mismanagement, Latest World News - The New Paper

Trump visits fire-wracked California, blames mismanagement

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He sticks to his guns when asked if climate change caused California tragedy

PARADISE, CALIFORNIA President Donald Trump expressed sadness on Saturday at the devastation caused by fires in a California town, but persisted in his controversial claim that forest mismanagement is responsible for the tragedy that has left 76 dead and more than 1,000 missing.

"This is very sad," Mr Trump said after surveying the remains of Paradise town. "They're telling me this is not as bad as some areas; some areas are even beyond this, they're just charred."

The deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history, Camp Fire, has now claimed 76 lives after the authorities on Saturday confirmed five more victims.

The blaze has destroyed nearly 10,000 homes and more than 2,500 other buildings.

In Chico, near Paradise, Mr Trump met firefighters and other first responders.

High-ranking fire officials recounted how quickly the fire spread, complicating evacuation efforts, as Mr Trump studied a huge map showing where fires continue to burn.

Keeping alive an earlier controversy, Mr Trump repeated his claim that California had mismanaged its forests and was largely to blame for the fires.

"I'm committed to make sure that we get all of this cleaned out and protected, (we've) got to take care of the forest, it's very important," he said in Paradise.

Days ago, he threatened to cut federal funding to California over its alleged "gross mismanagement" of forests.

Mr Brian Rice, president of California Professional Firefighters, called the remarks "ill-informed", noting the federal government had cut spending on forest management.

Asked if he believed climate change had played any role in the fires, Mr Trump again pointed to the "management factor" and insisted his "strong opinion" remained unchanged.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea had on Friday told reporters the number of people unaccounted hit 1,011.

He called it "a dynamic list", noting there could be duplicates and some people who had escaped could be unaware they were listed as missing.

More than 300 people listed as missing have been found.


In Paradise, several signs thanked Mr Trump for coming but one called him a "moron".

Ms Roslyn Roberts, 73, who fled from her home in Paradise, said she voted for Mr Trump but disagreed with his views about forest management.

"I would tell him this fire has nothing to do with forest mismanagement. Thousands of homes got destroyed with no trees around," she said. - AFP