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Trump visits California wildfire zones after criticizing forest management

Posted at 10:22 AM, Nov 17, 2018

President Trump arrives in Northern California

President Trump arrives at the Beale Air Force Base in Northern California for a first-hand look at the wildfire devastation.

Posted by KSBY on Saturday, November 17, 2018

President Donald Trump headed to California on Saturday to visit parts of the state devastated by wildfires despite criticizing forest management there just one week earlier.

Answering questions on the White House Southern Lawn, Trump called the fires a “shame.”

“It seems that many more people are missing than anyone thought even possible and I want to be with the firefighters and the FEMA and first responders,” Trump said.

The Camp Fire, which is burning north of Sacramento, has killed more than 70 and more than 1,000 people remained unaccounted for, although officials warned that number could contain duplicate reports.

Trump said he planned to meet with Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom during his visit to the state, adding that he would be “talking about forest management.”

“It should have been done many years ago, but 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,” Trump said.

In a joint statement, Gov. Brown and Newsom said they welcomed Trump’s visit.

“We welcome the President’s visit to California and are grateful for the quick response to our aid requests. Now is a time to pull together for the people of California,” the statement read.

Newsom said on Nov. 9 that Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency had granted a request for a Presidential Emergency Declaration and federal funds to help battle the Camp and Woolsey fires.

Trump initially blamed California’s forest management, without evidence, for the fires and threatened to withhold federal funding from the state.

“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.

The post earned backlash from California officials, first responders and celebrities.

“The firefighters and the communities in this state deserve an apology,” Brian Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters union, said.

Trump eventually reversed course, saying that California had his full backing.

“Just spoke to Governor Jerry Brown to let him know that we are with him, and the people of California, all the way!” Trump wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

This will be Trump’s second visit to the state during his presidency.