Before leaving the White House on Saturday morning for the fire-ravaged state of California, President Donald Trump suggested to members of the media that perhaps certain forest management decisions were to blame, in part, for the wildfires that have destroyed so much property, caused dozens of deaths, and left families and friends desperately searching for their missing loved ones.
“We will be talking about forest management. I’ve been saying that for a long time. It should have been a lot different situation,” Trump said Saturday before heading out.
“But the one thing is that everybody now knows that this is what we have to be doing, and there’s no question about it. It should have been done many years ago.”
Trump was greeted upon his arrival in California by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown as well as by Gov.-Elect Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was also with the president in California, as was senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.
Emergency workers greeted the president.
“I think everybody’s on the right side. It’s a big issue, it’s a big issue, a very expensive issue, but very, very inexpensive when you compare it to even one of these horrible fires. And we’ll save a lot of lives,” Trump said, as The Washington Post and others reported.
The president also praised the unrelenting work of the firefighters and first responders who have been battling blazes now for some time.
From fire-ravaged Paradise, Trump told members of the media it was “very sad to see” the devastation.
He also noted that “some areas are beyond this” in terms of damage, as CNN and other outlets reported.
The death toll in California has climbed now to at least 76 people, with well over 1,000 people still missing; officials late Saturday said that number may be approaching 1,300.
President @realDonaldTrump is traveling to California to meet with those impacted by the devastating wildfires. Learn how the Trump Administration is supporting the State of California during this emergency: https://t.co/iHcbAfmsq9 pic.twitter.com/nGY96wHt1F
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 17, 2018
Total devastation in Paradise, CA. Truly heartbreaking but so powerful to see the strength of the people here. President @realDonaldTrump stood w/ @JerryBrownGov, @GavinNewsom, and Mayor Jody Jones to say we are with you and working together to help. pic.twitter.com/QtdXdPek20
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) November 17, 2018
— GOP (@GOP) November 17, 2018
Just on Thursday night alone, investigators in California revealed that another seven sets of human remains had been found in the northern part of the state’s Camp Fire. And Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said that of those people found dead, 53 have been positively identified.
Three of the bodies found Thursday were located in Paradise — a town of 27,000 that has been destroyed by the inferno, as previously reported. Another three were found in Magalia; one was discovered in Concow.
But those numbers and situations already have been trumped by new findings.
The president landed in Chico, in northern California, and met with firefighters and state officials.
“This will be an educational opportunity for all … but the focus is on the people who have lost their homes.”
“When trees fall, they get very dry … You’ve gotta remove them. You’ve gotta remember them,” Trump told Fox News journalist Chris Wallace in an interview that is set to air on Sunday.
Trump said he would be staying in California for as long as he could to give the residents of the state as much help, reassurance and attention as possible.
Heading to California with @GOPLeader Kevin McCarthy, @RepLaMalfa, and @KenCalvert. Look forward to being with our brave Firefighters, First Responders and @FEMA, along with the many brave People of California. We are with you all the way – God Bless you all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2018
“For the president to be here … [This] is an opportunity for him to see the devastation firsthand,” said Mike Mohler, deputy director of the California department of forestry in the Golden State, on Saturday afternoon to Fox News.
“The focus is not on the politics but on what we’re dealing with here in California.”
“The state of California, Cal Fire, along with Gov. [Jerry] Brown’s support … This will be an educational opportunity for all … but the focus is on the people who have lost their homes” and of course those who have lost their lives, Mohler told Fox News on Saturday afternoon.
An army of searchers moved through the rubble of Paradise in a desperate search Friday to find more victims of California’s worst fire on record as the number of people missing skyrocketed. https://t.co/FWO0HLcUIS
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) November 17, 2018
The so-called Camp Fire in the northern part of the state continues to be investigated; and officials with Cal Fire have not yet confirmed what started the Woolsey fire, which is burning across Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
When a reporter during Trump’s visit asked him if there was “any way to prevent” such a crisis from happening again, Trump responded, in part, “We have been talking about that … I think we’re all on the same path. We have to do management, maintenance, and we will be working also with environmental groups. I think everyone has seen the light and I don’t think we will have this again, to this extent. We’ll have to work quickly, but a lot of people are very much — there has been a lot of study going on in the last little while and I will say I think you’re going to have, hopefully — this will be the last of these, because this was a really, really bad one.”
He added, “Right now we want to take care of the people so badly hurting. The families where they have lost — a lot of people have been lost. I guess we don’t know what the final number is? We won’t know for awhile. There are areas we can’t even get to yet. But we have incredible people doing the job. So we will get that better than anybody else could do it.”
Share your thoughts below — and watch this video as the numbers unfortunately continue to climb.