Trump heads for California as USA wildfires ignite political row

Clay Curtis
September 15, 2020

According to California fire officials, the 2020 fire season has been record breaking, with more than 3 million acres burned. It had 14,000 dry lightning strikes that set off hundreds of fires, some that combined into creating five of the 10 largest fires in the state's recorded history.

During the discussion, California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom shot back at the president after acknowledging poor forest management is a part of the problem, noting that 57% of California forests are on land controlled by the federal government. The president and his administration have sought to pin the blame for the large wildfires on state officials, saying fuel-choked forests and scrub need to be thinned, firebreaks must be cut and flammable dead leaves cleared from forest floors.

The ominous prediction, which came as historic wildfires scorch much of the country's West Coast, sounded like a prophecy out of the Book of Revelation.

The fires raging in California, Oregon, and Washington are "hellish", Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said on Monday, and there will be more like them if President Trump is re-elected in November.

Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years.

She added: "This is a wake-up call for all of us that we've got to do everything in our power to tackle climate change". Millions of dollars are spent on such reduction efforts every year in Western states though many argue more needs to be done.

Currently, 22 people are missing in the state.

Brown said cooler weather expected later this week will likely be a tremendous help for firefighters across the state.

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In southern OR to Northern California, warnings of low moisture and strong winds - conditions that can drive the flames - are in effect through Tuesday.

"Where you have lots of people living on small acreages close together, and you've got houses and barns and sheds and corrals and fences, it's very hard to do a prescribed burn", Gersbach said. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes as the fast-moving flames turned neighborhoods to nothing but charred rubble and burned-out cars.

At least 10 people have been killed in OR in the past week.

Most of the fatalities have occurred in California and OR, with emergency services in the two states recording 26 deaths.

Firefighter Steve McAdoo, who has run from one blaze to another in OR for six days, said his neighbors in rural areas outside Portland should clear trees near their homes because a week like they just survived could happen again.

"It could be a little different change in color if there is smoke in the air at that time", Lott said.

"Sometimes I feel like we are making progress at increasing the pace and scale of resilience treatments, but largely, the same issues are at play, and progress has been slow", Bailey said.

In the small southern OR town of Talent, Dave Monroe came back to his burned home, partly hoping he'd find his three cats. "There is something going on, that's for sure, man".

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