California Fires and the President’s Response


via Pixabay

California fires are causing a tremendous amount of destruction across the state

Before the sunset on Halloween, a small fire started on a hillside that was near Santa Paula. The fire exploded in size in a matter of seconds due to the Santa Ana winds. Unfortunately, with the buildup of dry vegetation and extreme winds, there have been 6,190 recorded fires that total about 198,815 acres of burned land as of October 27th. As these wildfires swept across Southern California, President Donald Trump criticized the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, for the way his administration managed the problem.

For the size and prevalence of the fires, Trump blamed Newsom’s management of forests and the state’s water policies. This wasn’t the first time Californian politicians have been criticized for their response to fires. After the Camp fire last year, Trump claimed the forest floor should have been raked, and water shouldn’t be diverted away from the fires. Obviously, these comments were inaccurate.

Trump’s tweets claimed that the forest floors must be cleaned “regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him”. This was inaccurate as the recent Southern Californian fires didn’t start in forests, but mostly in suburban or residential areas. Only one of the fires could be considered a forest fire. Another reason Trump has also received criticism is that the federal government manages more than half of California’s forest land. 

Cleaning forest floors have been tried in Germany and other nations. It was proven to be expensive and required a large amount of labor. Removing dead tree limbs proved to be unsustainable and took away all the nutrients that forests need.

Lack of water was another one of Trump’s reasons for the spread of wildfires. In a tweet, Trump believed that water diverted to the Pacific should be used to fight the fires and California’s water policies are to blame. This is proven false as were isn’t any infrastructure to transfer water from the delta to the burning areas.

Even though Trump has denounced Newsom, California has controlled wildfires better in Newsom’s first year than the years prior to Newsom’s term. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has tended to 6,190 fires that burned 198,392 acres this year. This is a significant decrease compared to the 5,335 fires burning 632,701 acres (about the size of Rhode Island) by this time last year.

Unfortunately, the fire season has just begun in Southern California. In the span of a few weeks, dryness, extreme winds, and heat combined have led to hundreds of fires. It is expected that there will be fires until December.