Hours after blaming state forest mismanagement for the California wildfires and threatening to withhold federal funding if management does not improve, President Trump followed up his remarks with two additional tweets that took a conciliatory tone towards the first responders who widely condemned his original comments.
“More than 4,000 are fighting the Camp and Woolsey Fires in California that have burned over 170,000 acres. Our hearts are with those fighting the fires, the 52,000 who have evacuated, and the families of the 11 who have died. The destruction is catastrophic. God bless them all,” read the first tweet.
The International Association of Fire Fighters and California Professional Fire Fighters had both condemned Trump’s original statement blaming mismanagement.
“To minimize the crucial, life-saving work being done and to make crass suggestions such as cutting off funding during a time of crisis shows a troubling lack of real comprehension about the disaster at hand and the dangerous job our fire fighters do,” said IAFF president Harold Schaitberger.
CPF president Brian Rice issued a blistering statement against the President’s comments, calling them “ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning,” as well as “an uninformed political threat aimed squarely at the innocent victims of these cataclysmic fires.”
“In my view, this shameful attack on California is an attack on all our courageous men and women on the front lines,” he said.
Trump added a warning to California residents subject to evacuation orders in a second follow-up tweet: “These California fires are expanding very, very quickly (in some cases 80-100 acres a minute). If people don’t evacuate quickly, they risk being overtaken by the fire. Please listen to evacuation orders from State and local officials!”
Trump’s original tweet, posted in the early hours of Saturday morning, stated that there is “no reason” for the California wildfires “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!” he added.
In addition to firefighters’ organizations, numerous celebrities and politicians condemned his remarks.
Governor-elect Gavin Newsom responded to Trump’s tweet, writing “this is not a time for partisanship. This is a time for coordinating relief and response and lifting those in need up.”
The Pasadena Fire Association corrected the president. “The fires in So. Cal are urban interface fires and have NOTHING to do with forest management. Come to SoCal and learn the facts & help the victims.”
Jimmy Kimmel retweeted the Pasadena Fire Assn.’s tweet and added “our ‘President’ points his little finger in the wrong direction to settle scores.”
“This is an absolutely heartless response,” wrote Katy Perry. “There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters.”
“Honestly thought this one was from a parody account,” wrote Zach Braff. “The city is on fire and people and animals are dying.”
Documentary filmmaker Lucy Walker wrote, “How can POTUS be so wrong? Yes. There are clear, agreed-upon reasons, including climate change.”
“The First” showrunner Beau Willimon pointed out Trump’s lack of “consolation to those who have lost life & property,” and wrote that the Bureau of Land Management’s budget is determined by Congress, not the president.
Patricia Arquette mused that “maybe Trump would like to see what would happen if California threatened to withhold out federal taxes.”