Death Toll From Wildfires Jumps As Trump Loses Patience With California Officials

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Authorities have identified 14 additional bodies believed to have died from wildfires tearing through Northern California, bringing the official death toll to 23 people.

The uptick in deaths comes as President Donald Trump warns California that federal funds might dry up if the state does not reform its forest management operations. Another 110 people are presumed missing in the area as officials continue battling one of the largest wildfires in state history.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told reporters Saturday that 23 people died in the fire near Paradise, a small town located about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco. Multiple fires are blazing in California while Trump pressures officials to revamp forest management operations.

“With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!” the president wrote in a tweet Sunday morning on his return trip from European. Trump also threatened to cut off federal funds if the state did not do more to prevent future wildfires.

The cost of firefighting has increased in recent years, hitting a high-water mark of $1.1 billion in 2017. Trump recently signed “fire funding fix” legislation to give federal agencies $2.25 billion to fight fires starting in 2020. That amount would increase to nearly $3 billion by 2027.

Home owner Will Buckley uses a shovel with dirt to try to stop the flames from from destroying a neighbor’s home during the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California, U.S. November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Gene Blevins

Gabi and Jonah Frank walk on Pacific Coast Highway as the Woolsey Fire threatens their home in Malibu, California, U.S. November 9, 2018. The fire destroyed dozens of structures, forced thousands of evacuations and closed a major freeway. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Firefighters are working to stamp down three massive blazes, including the 100,000-acre Camp Fire in Butte County. The inferno has so far injured three firefighters and destroyed more than 6,000 buildings. Officials are still trying to confirm how the fire began.

CBS Sacramento reported Friday night that utility PG&E may be to blame for the deadly blaze. State officials earlier in 2018 blamed PG&E power lines, conductors and power poles for 12 deadly Northern California fires that raged in 2017. (RELATED: Arizona Firefighters Head To California To Help Battle Blazes Rampaging State)

Several wildfires have whipsawed California recently. The Carr Fire became the ninth largest fire in the state’s history in July 2017. It burned more than 100,000 acres and killed six people near Redding. Fires killed six people and destroyed more than 100,000 acres that month.

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Tags : california donald trump energy gavin newsom
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