President Donald Trump gave his condolences to citizens affected by the wildfires currently raging in northern California, saying that the federal government “will stand with” them through the crisis.
The President addressed the wildfires from the White House on Tuesday and added that he’s been in contact with California Gov. Jerry Brown.
“I spoke with Gov. Brown last night to know that the federal government will stand with people of California and be there with you in this time of terrible tragedy and need,” Trump said before welcoming Stanley Cup champions the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Trump has not yet visited California, the country’s most populous state, nearly nine months into his term.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders addressed the wildfires in a statement Tuesday before her daily news briefing.
“Our hearts go out the people of California who are enduring the wildfires that are taking place now. The loss of homes and burning of precious land is heartbreaking, but the loss of life is truly devastating,” she said, adding that Trump spoke with Brown on Monday night.
Vice President Mike Pence offered gratitude Tuesday morning to firefighters battling California wildfires and pledged federal support.
The Trump administration has made a federal major disaster declaration for California, Pence also announced in Sacramento.
”.@POTUS Trump & our entire administration will work closely w/ @JerryBrownGov to see California through these challenging times,” Pence tweeted Tuesday morning, later adding, “We’re grateful for the firefighters helping to protect those in CA. @forestservice has sent 5 firefighting crews, 4 dozers & 2 strike teams.”
He also tweeted: “.@POTUS & I are standing w/ CA & the U.S people will have the communities that are affected in our thoughts & prayers in the days ahead.”
Pence also spoke on the issue Monday night at a tax reform event in Sacramento, telling Californians, “We will see you through these challenging times.”
He vowed the federal government is ready to help as wildfires rip through parts of the state, adding that he spoke with Brown, California’s Democratic governor, to assure him “the federal government stands ready to provide assistance as your first responders confront this challenge.”
Pence was briefed by firefighters in Orange County, where he saw the fires from the air as he traveled to Santa Ana.
On Monday, Brown – a frequent critic of Trump – wrote a letter to the President requesting federal emergency aid for the fires, writing he “determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments, and supplemental federal assistance is necessary.”
More than a dozen wildfires raged across Northern California on Tuesday morning, with the biggest ones scorching the state’s famous wine country, killing at least 11 people and burning more than 1,500 homes and businesses, authorities said.
The fires are burning in California’s wine country destinations – Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties – as well as Yuba County, north of Sacramento, with flames ripping through the lush, picturesque landscape.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.