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Trump to visit California after weeks of remaining largely silent on historically devastating wildfires

The White House on Saturday announced President Donald Trump will soon visit...

Posted: Sep 12, 2020 9:52 AM
Updated: Sep 13, 2020 7:15 AM

The White House on Saturday announced President Donald Trump will soon visit California, hours after Trump thanked the firefighters and first responders battling the historic wildfires raging in the western part of the United States.

Trump's public acknowledgment of the crisis comes after weeks of remaining largely silent on the fires that have killed over two dozen people and burned millions of acres.

Trump will visit McClellan Park, California, on Monday for a briefing with local and federal fire and emergency officials on the state's wildfires, the White House said Saturday. The President was already set to visit Reno, Nevada, on Saturday, where he is likely to see firsthand evidence of the devastating fires, as the National Weather Service in Reno issued a dense smoke advisory through Sunday.

Over the past few weeks, Trump hasn't tweeted about the devastating wildfires, despite regularly posting to his Twitter feed. His relative silence adds to his history of offering little empathy in the face of natural disasters, and tendency to attack Democratic leaders for their handling of crises.

But on Friday, he posted to Twitter: 'THANK YOU to the 28,000+ Firefighters and other First Responders who are battling wildfires across California, Oregon, and Washington.'

The President also said he approved funds to 'support their brave work' and added, 'We are with them all the way!'

Trump mentioned the wildfires over an hour into his speech at a rally Saturday night in Minden, Nevada.

'Our hearts are with all of the communities in the West battling devastating wildfires,' Trump told his supporters, adding that 'my administration is closely coordinating with state and local leaders.'

Trump repeatedly said the fires are about 'forest management,' a characterization he has repeatedly offered of such blazes that has been previously criticized as inaccurate.

'It is about forest management, please remember the words, very simply, forest management, please remember, about forest management, and other things,' he said, also thanking the firefighters and first responders who are reacting to the fires.

Trump had last addressed the wildfires during an August 23 news conference, announcing the approval of a disaster declaration for California and that the federal government had deployed thousands of first responders and personnel to the area.

'Our hearts go out to the thousands of families who have lost their homes,' he said. 'As we grieve for the families of two first responders and five residents who have tragically lost their lives in a very horrific fire -- one of the biggest we've ever seen.'

During a mid-August rally, as flames burned north of the Bay Area, his familiar response was to blame the state's forest management for not heeding his advice of cleaning the forests' floors.

The White House said 24 fire management grants have been approved since mid-August for Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Trump also approved an emergency declaration for Oregon on Thursday.

'The President continues to support those who are battling raging wildfires in a locally-executed, state-managed, and federally-supported emergency response,' White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement Saturday.

The White House, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have remained in 'constant contact' with state and local officials throughout the response to the fires, the statement said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that he spoke with Trump by phone for 30 minutes Thursday, during which he gave the President a status report.

'He reinforced his commitment to our effort and we were grateful,' Newsom, a Democrat, said in a news briefing.

A historic figure of more than 3.1 million acres have burned in California, which experts and state leaders contribute to climate change.

Trump has been skeptical about the climate crisis, even burying a study in 2018 produced by his own administration warning of the potentially catastrophic impact of climate change.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Saturday sent his thoughts to those affected in the wildfires and used the opportunity to criticize Trump's approach to the climate crisis.

'The science is clear, and deadly signs like these are unmistakable -- climate change poses an imminent, existential threat to our way of life,' Biden said in a statement. 'President Trump can try to deny that reality, but the facts are undeniable. We absolutely must act now to avoid a future defined by an unending barrage of tragedies like the one American families are enduring across the West today.'

As of Saturday morning, at least 26 people have been killed in the wildfires and dozens more are missing, officials say. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate and hundreds have lost their homes in the massive infernos. The victims include a 1-year-old boy in Washington state and a young teen in Oregon, who in his last moments huddled with his dog inside a car as it was engulfed in flames.

This story has been updated to include the President's announced trip to California, comments from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump's comments at a Saturday night rally.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1114524

Reported Deaths: 18726
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles3645207438
San Bernardino845311129
Riverside806761400
San Diego71648968
Orange696941554
Kern38316445
Fresno35973471
Sacramento33133546
Santa Clara30676463
Alameda27485499
San Joaquin24649503
Contra Costa22412258
Stanislaus20370416
Tulare19752303
Ventura18040174
Imperial15053353
San Francisco14445158
Monterey13886113
San Mateo13203169
Sonoma11428155
Merced10986176
Santa Barbara10922133
Kings1003886
Solano934980
Marin7518128
Placer577867
Madera571480
San Luis Obispo561835
Yolo419975
Shasta409542
Santa Cruz389827
Butte366459
Napa275717
Sutter263813
El Dorado19304
San Benito174115
Yuba173210
Lassen14803
Tehama143523
Mendocino138522
Nevada10189
Lake83218
Glenn8296
Humboldt7309
Tuolumne7088
Colusa6426
Mono4993
Siskiyou4951
Amador45016
Calaveras43421
Inyo28316
Del Norte2731
Plumas1770
Trinity1130
Modoc1110
Mariposa1042
Alpine420
Sierra170
Unassigned00
Chico
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Paradise
Few Clouds
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Chester
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Hi: 46° Lo: 26°
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Red Bluff
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Hi: 67° Lo: 43°
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Willows
Few Clouds
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Hi: 68° Lo: 46°
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Mostly sunny & dry weather is ahead for your Monday. The potential for showers will return to mostly mountain areas late Tuesday night through Wednesday .We'll be drying back out for Thanksgiving.
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