Fire service leaders denounce Trump’s wildfire tweet

California Professional Firefighters President Brian Rice said President Trump’s tweet about the wildfires was “ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning”


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Fire service leaders denounced President Trump’s claim that the wildfires are a result of “gross mismanagement of the forests.”

In his first tweet about the deadly wildfires, Trump said “there is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor.”

A firefighting DC-10 makes a fire retardant drop over a wildfire in the mountains near Malibu Canyon Road in Malibu, Calif. (Photo/AP)
A firefighting DC-10 makes a fire retardant drop over a wildfire in the mountains near Malibu Canyon Road in Malibu, Calif. (Photo/AP)

"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!" his tweet read.

In a written statement, California Professional Firefighters President Brian Rice said Trump’s assertion was “ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning,” USA Today reported.

“At a time when our very 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,” Rice’s statement said.

Rice also said Trump was “dangerously wrong” when he claimed the fires were caused by poor forest management policies.

“Wildfires are sparked and spread not only in forested areas but in populated areas and open fields fueled by parched vegetation, high winds, low humidity and geography,” his statement said. “Moreover, nearly 60 percent of California forests are under federal management, and another two-thirds under private control.”

Rice concluded the statement by encouraging the president “to offer support in word and deed, instead of recrimination and blame.”

IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said Trump’s tweets were “reckless and insulting” in an official response.

"The early moments of fires such as these are a critical time, when lives are lost, entire communities are wiped off the map and our members are injured or killed trying to stop these monstrous wildfires," Schaitberger said. "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.”

Trump later tweeted appreciation for the firefighters battling the blazes.

“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,” he said.

The death toll has now risen to 31 statewide, according to officials.

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