Trump last weighed in on the devastating fires in California in the middle of August, when another round of blazes was burning north of 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.”
Since then, federal fire management grants have been made available to affected states, but Trump himself hasn’t weighed in on the more recent fires, which have spread to Washington and Oregon. He sent several tweets and retweets on Thursday morning but none about the fires.
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. The White House said 24 fire management grants have been approved since mid-August for Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
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.
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.
Instead of Trump, it fell to Vice President Mike Pence to express concern amid the blazes during a Thursday morning interview on Fox News.
“Look, my daughter and son-in-law live in California,” he said. “Our hearts go out to all of those enduring or threatened by these fires and I want to assure everyone that we’re going to make sure that those courageous firefighters, that homeowners and businesses have the full support of the federal government.”
In a statement, the White House said “the federal government continues to support our western neighbors who are battling raging wildfires in a locally executed, state-managed and federally supported emergency response.”
“President Trump is closely monitoring and continues to urge individual emergency preparedness and citizens in impacted areas to listen to the warnings of state and local officials,” spokesman Judd Deere said on Thursday.
The White House said more than 26,000 federal personnel and 230 helicopters had been deployed to the region to fight the recent fires, in addition to the California disaster declaration and the fire management grants.
Still, 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.”
“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.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.