(CBS SF / CNN) — President Donald Trump as of Thursday morning has yet to offer any public statement of support amid historic wildfires spreading in California and the Pacific Northwest — even though he vowed federal intervention in those states earlier this summer amid racial unrest.
Trump last publicly weighed in on the devastating fires in California in the middle of August, when another round of blazes were burning in and around the Bay Area. His familiar response was to blame the state’s forest management.
“They’re starting again in California,” he said at a rally. “I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests — there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up.”
He hasn’t weighed in on the more recent fires, which have spread to Washington and Oregon. Among those burning include the Bear Fire burning in Butte County and the Creek Fire burning in the Sierra northeast of Fresno. Those fires, along with others, have led to smoky skies in the Bay Area and other parts of California and the west.
Trump sent several tweets and retweets on Thursday morning but none about the fires.
According to reports President Trump briefly spoke on Thursday with Gov. Gavin Newsom and expressed his condolences for the loss of life due to the fire. He also reiterated his administration’s full support to help those on the front lines of the fires. Newsom thanked President Trump for the ongoing assistance and support.
The administration has granted federal assistance to the fire fight, particularly the Creek Fire, which Newsom acknowledged at his news conference on Tuesday.
“The Creek Fire is primarily a federal fire. There’s a state overlay component. I want to extend appreciation for the FMAG (Federal Management Assistance Grant) that was afforded the state of California over the weekend,” Newsom said. “I want to thank FEMA and the White House for their support in this space.”
Oregon’s Democratic governor has said there could be unparalleled devastation in her state, both in terms of property damage and deaths. More than 2.5 million acres have burned in California, a historic figure.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has freed up some federal funds for combating the blazes and Trump signed a disaster declaration for California in August, but he has yet to sign one for Oregon, whose governor said she sent in the request on Wednesday night. And he’s so far remained largely silent on the spreading fires.
That is hardly the same response Trump demonstrated after some protests turned violent in Portland and Seattle earlier this summer. The President dispatched federal law enforcement to Portland to protect a federal courthouse, leading to scenes of violent clashes and accusations of federal overreach. Federal officers were also dispatched to Seattle amid protests.
In total, one person has died in the Portland unrest. So far, at least seven people have died in the wildfires and more deaths are expected.
“This could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state’s history,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said Wednesday.
Trump has a history of dismissing wildfires and other natural disasters on the West Coast, where he does not enjoy widespread support. When he visited the site of a major fire in Butte County in 2018, he mistakenly called the town “Pleasure” instead of “Paradise.”
A former Department of Homeland Security official, Miles Taylor, has said Trump sought to withhold emergency money to California amid previous fires.
“He told us to stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down from a wildfire because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him and that politically it wasn’t a base for him,” Taylor said recently.
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