Firefight unions gave a blistering response to President Donald Trump’s suggestion that the government should cancel federal financial relief over so-called “gross mismanagement of the forests.”
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump wrote Saturday on Twitter. "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!
What was the response?
In a statement, Brian Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters union, said Trump’s “shameful attack on California” was off-base.
“The president’s message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is Ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines,” the statement read.
"At a time when our every effort should be focused on vanquishing the destructive fires and helping the victims, the president has chosen instead to issue an uninformed political threat aimed squarely at the innocent victims of these cataclysmic fires," the statement continued.
Rice also said California does not mismanage its forests, namely because 60 percent of the state’s forests are federally-managed.
“Natural disasters are not "red” or “blue” — they destroy regardless of party. Right now, families are in mourning, thousands have lost homes, and a quarter-million Americans have been forced to flee,” he stated.
The twitter account for the California Professional Firefights union stated that the President "owes the men and women of the fire service an apology."
The Pasadena Fire Association also responded, writing that Trump was wrong because “the fires in So. Cal are urban interface fires and have NOTHING to do with forest management.”
Trump followed up his original tweet with a pair that were more subdued, gave credit to firefighters for their work and urged people to follow evacuation orders:
What's the current status?
In Northern California, the Camp Fire has caused at least 23 deaths and burned through 109,000 acres since Thursday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection incident website Sunday morning.
In Southern California, two deaths were reported from the Woolsey and Hill fires. More than 250,000 people, were evacuated, according to published reports.
The International Association of Firefighters on Saturday issued a statement that calledTrump's remarks "reckless and insulting to the fire fighters and people being affected."