President threatens again to cut fire funding

(Originally published at 9:01 a.m. PST November 10, 2018)

President Trump is in France but early Saturday morning he weighed in on Twitter with commentary about the wildfires in California that this week have killed nine people, destroyed over 6,000 residences, burned more than 190,000 acres, and 200,000 people have been forced from their homes.

Mr. Trump made a similar threat on October 17, 2018.

The Camp and Woolsey Fires both burned during very strong wind events — so extreme that air tankers and helicopters could not assist firefighters on the ground. Because of the immediate threat to the local populations, wildland firefighters had to abandon attempting to suppress the fires, and switched to saving lives.

As noted below by former firefighter James Sinko who is now with The Weather Channel, the area of the Camp Fire has had only 0.14 inch of precipitation since the first of June, and 0.88 since May 1.

And on a more lighthearted note, check out the contribution below of Mr. Duhnkrack. You’ll need to click on the photo once or maybe twice to see the entire image.

Mr. Nixon was wetting down his shake shingle roof as a wildfire burned near his San Clemente, California home.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

24 thoughts on “President threatens again to cut fire funding”

  1. Thank you, Bill. Shocking that the President wouldn’t acknowledge the loss and suffering. And so disappointing that he would focus on the politics of forest management at this time and total lack of understanding of the elements involved, again, including brush and foehn winds.

    1. Agree totally Paula. If he understood how the weather in the West has contributed to extreme fire conditions, unlike the unprecedented rain the East Coast has experienced in the past year or two, it might prevent his hurtful comments, especially to all those who’ve lost their homes, businesses, family members, friends and lives not just in California but other areas of the West.

      Perhaps a visit to California might help, to observe the landscape, and meet those responsible for forest management?

  2. I agree with Paula to an extent .We should not be in a situation where often times, not only are thousands of structures are lost ;but more importantly human and animal lives are lost.
    The President is obviously frustrated with some state FF agencies that are not doing their job[s] .
    Cutting funding is not a good choice ,however some Federal oversight outside of the realm of the USFS ,BLM ,and NPS might be a GOOD IDEA. What I mean is : that each Agency should have an Independent INSPECTOR GENERAL [ who is resource savvy] to ascertain and report on, the quality of management and the proper allocation of financial resources, equipment and personnel !
    The information that Bill Gabbert provides is a start in the right direction !
    As an aside ,I wonder how many of our Air Tankers are right now, in Australia or other overseas locations .

    1. Chuck, no planning, absolutely nothing could have prevented these extreme fire conditions, except an act of God, nothing. Without normal seasonal rain(s), and increasing warmer temperatures year-round, no prescribed fires will ever curtail fires like these happening.

      You could have a hundred air tankers, and it would do absolutely nothing to control these fires. Sustained rain, high humidity, winter snow in mountainous areas are the best conditions to put out fires.

      With the Paradise Fire, fire personnel said, and I agree, the only thing you can do is save lives, the conditions were/are so severe, Fire fighting is impossible.

      1. Hmm…that’s a new one David. Wondering how you would re-burn the black if prescribed fire & control lines were premptively placed around these communities. Or some veg. mgmt. was done at any point in the last century.

        I don’t discount the climate. But in doing so, we have to discuss things we can change instead of sitting on our hands & pointing the finger at CO2 every chance we get.

        It is unbelievably short sighted to discount the impact of 100 years of fire suppression, & lack of veg. mgmt. The natives were touching off fall burns before us, & before that lightening fires did their job to reduce fuels. The only reason it’s such a monumental issue now, is we’re built up to all those wildlands. It’s unfortunate the President can’t communicate these points with more elegance & bring every one to the table to discuss practical solutions.

        Thanks Bill for the continued excellent coverage.

        1. Mike D: You obviously get it – your points above are well stated. I once remember Bill G stating he would now allow politics to enter this blog. Not sure if that is still his policy but I see emotions stat objectivity has entered the conversation. At any rate, there appears to be one thing in common: There is little consensus between the Fed gov’t and the State of Cal as to how to approach and manage Wildlfire. I just follow from the sidelines and do not proclaim to be an expert in the wildland fire business but I do see some folks profiting quit nicely from all these fires. Lastly, I agree wholeheartedly that Bill does an excellent job covering these wildfires and highlighting some of the heroic folks who fight them.

          1. Thanks for the kind words, Don.

            You may have meant to write, “…he would NOT allow politics to enter this blog”.

            To clarify, our policies are here. An excerpt is below.

            Religion and politics will not be discussed, unless it directly affects wildland fire or firefighters.

    1. Exactly. These were not lightning strike caused fires also. With the Paradise Fire, PG&E said they had a transformer that shorted our, the probable cause for that fire. It’s too soon to know what has caused the 3 fires around LA yet.

  3. This is just horrible to see and we are so sorry that our President has no understanding, compassion or any sense of decency to do the right thing! He threatens the state instead! It is impossible not to speak out now more than ever that this is unacceptable and to hold him accountable for all his vile actions! We here in New York appreciate the hard work, dedication and selflessness these firefighters and their families having during these horrible times! God bless you all!

  4. The forests above Paradise are actively logged. Look at the patchwork on Google maps if you have never been in the area. The fire is not in any area amenable to commercial logging. Nor are the burning zones in Southern California. Unless the the entire state is clear cut and burned to char every year thereafter, creating a permanent post-Apocalyptic wasteland, fires are still possible, and necessary to healthy ecology. NorCal is Trump country. So this is how he treats people that have supported him.

  5. This is not the first time that Donald hasn’t grasped the whole picture. I’m sure that some people will believe his rhetoric. He only wants experts that agree with him. It’s bad enough that people are suffering but he has to pour more salt on people’s wounds.

  6. It is sad that citizens of CA are going through a very rough fire season with the losses of life and property. President Trump: If it is such bad “forest management” then please have the Department of Interior and Agriculture begin good “forest management” on federal lands. Assist the States in doing the right thing. Please explain to the American people that your budget proposals with reductions leads to good forest practices and more efficient fire management.
    I was in wildland fire management for 30 years with a Federal agency. With all do respect President Trump, I really believe you need better information that what you have been given.

    1. Well put FFTR. My opinion comes from observation and is not as a professional in any way. I think it’s just plain common sense and shouldn’t be a political football to toss around. One only has to see the devastation first hand and talk to residents affected to get the real picture of what has been happening out West with fires.

  7. The president is intentionally making controversial comments to change the focus of the heat that’s on him from all of his other troubles. The news media needs to keep focused and hold him to the issue. When the comments about his stupid remarks about the fires get too much for him he will come up with another issue to shift the focus from California to something like Iran or Korea. We’re in the second year of this tragic pattern and there is never closure.

  8. Was this a firewise community??? Looking at Google Earth it appears there was not a lot of consideration for the threat of fire to the city. Lot of brush and not a lot of fire proofing done to homes, fences or yards. If you don’t want this type of situation then you need to prepare. Although in this situation it still might not have prevented some serious damage but maybe not total destruction and prepping homes and yards may have helped firefighters prevent some of the damage. Firefighters and a lot of other responders performed a lot of heroics on this one. They all deserve a lot of praise for what they did.
    Final analysis: When are people going to learn that you cannot fully rely on the government (local, state or federal) to take care of you when the sh#t hits the fan. They can only do what common sense and available resources allow. That might not be much in a real bad situation. Be ready to take care of yourself!!!! That means preparing!

    1. Yes. All of these communities had standard ordinances requiring 50yd safety perimeters around the property lines — and non-compliant homeowners are either billed for third-party creation/maintenance of safety perimeters or fined for violation of the ordinance — or both. The issue is drought and increasingly hot climates (not just temperatures), for whatever reason you’d like to cite, in areas that are chapparal and brush, not trees and forest. The argument that poor forest management is to blame is a prelude to the old “Let’s sell off Federal Forests to lumber & paper corporations” argument. The ‘management techniques’ of those companies is called “Clear-cutting” and the resultant exposure of shade-less land will result in MORE hot climates, thereby exacerbating the wildfire problem.

  9. abandonment of protections and denial of the countries contribution to global warming and these will be the prices you will pay. mis-management of forests has nothing to do with it. global warming is real mass pollution is real mass exploitation of finite resources (water ie fracking) is happening has long term effects of a huge magnitude beyond imagination and short term profit and money and it is only going only get worse with the current attitudes and policies of some government officials and departments 😉 ! Rich or poor it affects us all not to mention other living being plant fish or animal. get used to this or change.

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