As Wildfires Ravage California, Trump Threatens to Pull Federal Funds [UPDATED]

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Update, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET: Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said on Saturday that the death toll from the Northern California wildfire at Paradise has increased to 23, the Associated Press reported. Additionally, 110 people are still missing.


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In the middle of massive California wildfires that have claimed nine lives so far, destroyed thousands of structures, and forced mass evacuations, President Donald Trump has threatened to stop providing federal funding to the state.

Trump issued the threat via Twitter on Saturday, citing “gross mismanagement” of the state’s forests.

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

Trump tweeted the message hours after he issued a state of emergency declaration to provide aid to state and local firefighters, according to the Associated Press. His comments also followed the announcement Friday night that nine people had been killed in the deadly Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise, in Northern California. As of Friday night, that fire had burned over 90,000 acres across more than 140 square miles, yet it was only 5% contained, The Washington Post reported.


Other wildfires continue to burn in Southern California as well, forcing the evacuation of 250,000 people from an area extending from Thousand Oaks, where 12 people died in a mass shooting earlier this week, to the celebrity beach city of Malibu, according to the AP.

This isn’t the first time Trump has lashed out at California in the middle of a crisis. In August, Trump used California wildfires as an excuse to tweet criticisms of the state’s environmental laws and water management policies. He tweeted about it over two consecutive days.


His arguments then were arrant nonsense: “Governor Jerry Brown must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Can be used for fires, farming and everything else,” he wrote in one of the tweets.


In another, he incorrectly blamed “bad environmental laws” for a nonexistent water shortage by firefighters.

“We have plenty of water supplies,” California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Scott McLean countered at the time, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.


Saturday’s tweet, which was the president’s first about the current wildfires, generated scorn on social media. “At least nine people dead, hundreds of homes destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people evacuated, terror from mountains to the sea. The president’s first tweet about the California fires misstates the cause of all the awful destruction to blame the state,” the Post’s national campaign editor, Cathleen Decker, wrote.


“This is an absolutely heartless response. There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters,” Katy Perry added.


Some of the celebrities who’ve had to evacuate, according to The Guardian, include Will Smith, Kim Kardashian West, Caitlyn Jenner, Lady Gaga, Alyssa Milano, Guillermo del Toro, and Scott Baio, among others.


Weekend Editor, Splinter