President Trump visits California wildfire zones

By Sophie Tatum
7:39 a.m. ET, November 19, 2018
1:04 p.m. ET, November 17, 2018

Ryan Zinke sidesteps questions about Trump's tweet

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

California Gov. Jerry Brown, FEMA Administrator Brock Long and US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke tour a school burned by the Camp Fire on Nov. 14, 2018 in Paradise.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke toured the Camp Fire burn area Wednesday and expressed solidarity with state officials.

"It's going to take working together from the community all the way up to federal government and making sure that we do active forest management, we prioritize infrastructure, public safety, the roads, evacuation, and work together as a team," Zinke said Thursday. 

A day earlier, at a briefing with California Gov. Jerry Brown, Zinke sidestepped questions about President Trump's earlier criticism of California's forest management and said the federal government and the state government are working together to fight the fires.

"We're not finger-pointing here. We're all in the same boat. Everyone loves California — I certainly do. I want to see California thrive. I want to see healthy forests and I want to go and have a steak dinner when the governor retires," he said. 

In August, Trump caused confusion after he claimed that California's water, which could be used for firefighting, was instead "being diverted into the Pacific Ocean." Following the tweet, Zinke wrote an op-ed calling for a more proactive approach to preventing wildfires. 

Zinke's spokeswoman, Heather Swift, said at the time that the department's practice is to not comment on Trump's tweets.

1:00 p.m. ET, November 17, 2018

The Trump tweet that sparked anger among firefighters and celebrities

From CNN's Amir Vera

A week ago, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to blame "gross mismanagement" for the devastating California wildfires. The tweet sparked a backlash from top firefighters' associations, politicians and celebrities.

Trump, in a series of tweets last Saturday, said the state's deadly wildfires are a result of poor forest management and threatened to cut federal aid. (He subsequently issued an emergency declaration and a major disaster declaration at the request of the state.)

Why this matters: The tweet drew the ire of the leaders of firefighters' organizations, who accused the President of bringing politics into a devastating disaster.

Brian K. Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters, said the message is an attack on some of the people fighting the devastating fires.

A number of celebrities also responded to Trump's tweet Saturday.

"This is an absolutely heartless response," singer Katy Perry tweeted. "There aren't even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters."

1:12 p.m. ET, November 17, 2018

President Trump will meet with people affected by the California wildfires

From CNN's Liz Stark

President Trump will visit California on Saturday to see the impact of the deadly wildfires.

“The President will travel to California this Saturday to meet with individuals impacted by the wildfires," spokesperson Lindsay Walters said.

The President's plans for the visit, only his second as president, come after he initially criticized California forest management last weekend, shortly after the fires started, threatening to withhold federal emergency funds

What we know about the wildfires: The Camp Fire has killed at least 71 people in Northern California's Butte County and turned the hard-hit town of Paradise into ash and debris. At least three other people were killed in the Woolsey Fire in Southern California.

In the Camp Fire's devastating aftermath, cadaver dogs, deputies and coroners are searching the ruins where Paradise, a town of 27,000, once stood.

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