President Trump is making a rare West Coast swing Monday, as wildfires ravage California, Oregon and Washington. Mr. Trump is participating in a briefing on the wildfires in McClellan Park, California, an event closed to the press. In California, the president blamed the fires on poor forest management, saying dry trees “just explode.”
The fires have killed at least 35 from California to Washington state, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to evacuate. The smoke has, yielding the eerie orange images of San Francisco last week. Together, the dozens of fires have burned more than 3 million acres.
The president, as he has in the past, blamed poorly managed forests for the fires, even though many of the forests in California are federally managed.
“When trees fall down after a short period of time, about 18 months, they become very dry,” the president said. “They become really like a matchstick … you know, there’s no more water pouring through and they become very, very — they just explode. They can explode.”
The president also claimed the climate will “start getting cooler,” a statement with which a nearby official disagreed.
“I don’t think science agrees with you,” the official said.
“I don’t think science knows,” the president replied.
The president has long denied the impact of man-made influence on climate change. Asked if California had a climate change problem, Mr. Trump responded, “You’ll have to answer your governor that question. I don’t want to step on this toes.”
The president landed in California framed by a smoky sky. Mr. Trump has approved emergency declarations for West Coast states.
“THANK YOU to the 28,000+ Firefighters and other First Responders who are battling wildfires across California, Oregon, and Washington,” Mr. Trump tweeted Friday. “I have approved 37 Stafford Act Declarations, including Fire Management Grants to support their brave work. We are with them all the way!”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also delivered remarks on the fires and climate change from Delaware, although he is not currently scheduled to visit the West Coast.
“We need a president who respects science,” Biden said in his speech. “Who understands that the damage from climate change is already here. Unless we take urgent action, it’ll soon be more catastrophic.”
Mr. Trump will be stopping in Phoenix Monday for a “Latinos for Trump Coalition Roundtable,” which is open to the press. The Trump campaign is making a play for Nevada and, as recent polls show him trailing in both of those states. The campaign believes it is making significant inroads with Latinos, whose populations are strong in Nevada and Phoenix.
Mr. Trump, who rarely spends a night away from the White House or one of his properties, is returning to D.C. late Monday evening.