Once again Donald Trump is being mocked worldwide over stupid comments he made, this time about the very grave situation with California’s wildfires.
Before getting into it, a reminder that at least 76 deaths have been confirmed as of Saturday in Northern California’s Camp Fire, which has destroyed nearly 10,000 homes, and at least 1,300 people are unaccounted for. The situation is dire, and as Butte County Sheriff and Coroner Kory Honea described it to CNN, “overwhelming.” People are suffering greatly from this mass tragedy.
That said, the president’s comments during a visit to the affected area on Saturday aren’t helping. As our sister site Earther reported, during a tour of the destroyed town of Paradise, a reporter asked Trump how he thought massive wildfires should be prevented in the future.
“We’ve got to take care of the floors, you know, the floors of the forest. It’s very important,” Trump said. “You look at other countries where they do it differently and it’s a whole different story. I was with the president of Finland, and he said, ‘We’re a forest nation.’ He called it a ‘forest nation.’ And they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things. And they don’t have any problem. And when it is, it’s a very small problem. So, I know everybody’s looking at that.”
But in comments published Sunday, Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, emphasized that he had said no such thing to Trump. Niinistö told the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat that he did speak with Trump about wildfires while the two were in Paris to observe Armistice Day, but Trump must have misunderstood what he said.
“I told him that Finland is a land covered by forests, but we also have a good control system and network,” Niinistö told the newspaper. Asked by a reporter about Trump’s raking comment, the Finnish president laughed.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Pangburn, of California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, explained how the Camp Fire had spread:
“It started out as a vegetation fire. When it reached the incorporated area, which is definitely a lot more urban and developed of an area,” he said, “it turned into a building-to-building fire ... no longer carrying through most of the vegetation, especially in the upper canopies in the trees. It was not a crown fire through the Paradise area.”
As more structures caught fire, the situation just got worse.
The climates, rainfall and wind patterns, and population densities in California and Finland are vastly different. About 70% of Finland’s 338,000 square kilometers are forested, and much of the country is covered in snow several months of the year.
But Trump can’t be bothered with these types of facts. It’s easier just to make shit up. As a result, Finns are now dragging the U.S. president on social media, with many posts showing normal folks out “raking the forest floor.” One of them even brought a vacuum cleaner for the job. No idea where she’s going to plug it in.