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There was a lot of push back yesterday (Saturday) from firefighter organizations and others to President Trump’s tweet (above) from France about the California wildfires. The statements and some of the tweets are below, along with two later tweets from President Trump that struck a different tone, plus one today (Sunday) that doubled down on his tweet about forest management.
As the Camp, Rincon and Woolsey wildfires are devouring homes and threatening lives across Butte, Los Angeles and Ventura counties in California, President Donald Trump has chosen to respond with an irresponsible, reckless and insulting tweet criticizing the work being done on the frontline to contain these disasters. While fire fighters and civilians are still in harm’s way, the president even suggested cutting off necessary funding to keep Americans safe.
“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,” said Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). “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.
“His comments are reckless and insulting to the fire fighters and people being affected.”
Since the three wildfires erupted early Thursday, thousands of IAFF members have responded to the frontlines to assist in rescuing and evacuating people in the path of danger while working feverishly to contain the flames, even as their own families are being evacuated and their homes destroyed.
Mr. President, with all due respect, you are wrong. 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. Scott Austin, Pres IAFF 809. @IAFFNewsDesk https://t.co/d3jY0SeosF
— Pasadena Fire Assn. (@PFA809) November 10, 2018
President of the United States blames rape of California on what it was wearing. pic.twitter.com/bG3LOh6qfS
— Beachwood Reporter (@BeachwoodReport) November 10, 2018
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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018
With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2018
California Professional Firefighters President Brian Rice’s response to President Trump:
As a quarter-million Californians fled from the path of a series of deadly wildfires, and thousands of firefighters did battle on the front lines, President Trump issued a statement threatening to withhold federal disaster aid and attacking California fire policies.
California Professional Firefighters President Brian K. Rice issued the following response to the president’s threat.
“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.
“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.
“At this moment, thousands of our brother and sister firefighters are putting their lives on the line to protect the lives and property of thousands. Some of them are doing so even as their own homes lay in ruins. In my view, this shameful attack on California is an attack on all our courageous men and women on the front lines.
“The president’s assertion that California’s forest management policies are to blame for catastrophic wildfire is dangerously wrong. 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. Moreover, nearly 60 percent of California forests are under federal management, and another two-thirds under private control. It is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management, not California.
“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. At this desperate time, we would encourage the president to offer support in word and deed, instead of recrimination and blame.”
California Professional Firefighters represents more than 30,000 front line firefighters and paramedics in California. CPF is the state council of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)