WASHINGTON, D.C. (KPIX 5) — President Trump weighed in on the growing number of fires burning out of control in California Sunday, blaming state legislators for laws he claimed were reducing the amount of water available to fire crews.
Cal Fire officials said they ares nervous about the fact that the state has seen so much destruction from fires when it is only the first week of August. Half a million acres have burned and 45,000 people have been evacuated across the state of California.
Cal Fire says this is the new normal. After a historic drought, the tremendous amount of rain in the last year helped produce a tremendous about of tinder-dry grass and brush. That fuel along with hot weather and winds has been a recipe for disaster.
The fires have also caught President Trump’s attention.
On Sunday afternoon, he tweeted about the fire, cited “bad environmental laws” that were reducing the amount of water available to firefighters battling the fire.
Cal Fire Assistant Chief Mike Marcucci said the department could not comment on the President’s remarks at this time.
When asked if he had been in a situation where crews needed water and couldn’t get it, Marcucci replied, “No, I don’t think so. We’re fortunate in California to where during the drought we were worried. One less drop, every drop that was wasted, was one less drop we could use on a fire.”
Marcucci said agencies including water districts also left reserves for the department.
And as far as water being diverted into the Pacific Ocean?
“What Cal Fire is mainly charged with is protecting the watershed. And yes, there are creeks and streams that do run out of hills into the Pacific Ocean,” said Marcucci. “That’s a natural progression of where the water goes from the higher elevations out to the ocean itself, so some of it gets saved up in dams and reservoirs.”
When it comes to clearing trees, Cal Fire said by abstaining from years of controlled burns, unchecked growth has created a tinderbox fueling out of control wildfires.
“It’s a daunting task that we’re working with some of our cooperators on to make sure we can get some of those trees out of the way to not add to some of the fuel,” said Marcucci.
On Sunday the White House approved a disaster declaration for Shasta County due to the Carr Fire, fast tracking federal aid.