It’s hard to imagine the real destruction of the California wildfires. Scores of people dead, hundreds missing, thousands of structures destroyed, and hundreds of acres burned to the ground. It’s a tragedy the likes of which our nation has never seen before.
In times like these, those affected by the wildfires need urgent assistance, and that’s exactly what they’re getting from the Trump administration.
The Camp fire alone has claimed at least 77 lives, out of a total of at least 94 fire-related deaths for the season. That same fire has all but wiped out Paradise, California, a prosperous community of 26,000, and sent the residents of a dozen other towns fleeing for their lives. All told, more than 1.6 million acreshave been set ablaze this year. That’s an area bigger than the entire state of Delaware.
Luckily, our brave firefighters and other first responders appear to have turned the corner in their battle with the blaze. The massive Woolsey brushfire in Southern California is 96 percent contained, while the Camp Fire in the Central Valley is finally 70 percent contained with the end of danger now just barely in sight.
President Trump and his administration have been there for every part of this fight. This past weekend, President Trump visited California to consult with local leaders. He hosted Governor Jerry Brown aboard Air Force One, and toured the devastation with Brown, Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, Paradise Mayor Jody Jones, and U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Also accompanying President Trump was FEMA Administrator Brock Long, who is tasked with implementing the robust federal response to this disaster. Even before the President’s major disaster declaration, FEMA was on the scene helping state and local first responders and providing shelter and other assistance to those driven from their homes. With President Trump’s declaration in effect, FEMA is setting up disaster recovery centers across the wildfire zones for those directly affected.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has also visited California no fewer than four times to help coordinate the response to this year’s record-setting fire season. Some of the blazes began or touched on federal lands, and the Department of the Interior and its Bureau of Land Management are integral to studying the causes to help prevent these tragedies from recurring in the future.
Wildfires are an inevitable feature of the American West, and the drought conditions this year all but guaranteed that a spark would catch somewhere. This administration recognizes, however, that we must provide better management, prevention, and response in the future.
God willing, we’ve rounded the corner on 2018’s wildfire disasters in California. The people most affected can now begin to mourn their friends, repair their property, and rebuild their lives.
It’s the federal government’s duty to help them through this ordeal and work to ensure that this scale of devastation can never happen again. It’s a duty from which this administration will not shrink.