Fire the Firefighters? 🚒

Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP

Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP

Cali on fire 🔥

California is currently facing three major active wildfires that all started last Thursday (all data as of Sunday afternoon):

  • Woolsey fire: in Simi Valley and rapidly expanding to engulf over 83,000 acres, remains only 5% contained, has claimed 2 lives, and forced 265,000 into mandatory evacuations

  • Camp fire: in Butte County in northern CA, labelled as the most destructive and third-deadliest wildfire in CA history with 105,000 acres burned, is 20% contained, and has killed 23 people

  • Hill fire: in Ventura county in southern CA and the smallest of the three, it has burned 4,531 acres and led to zero fatalities thus-far

Trump blames CA

In a tweet, Trump blamed the fires on "forest mismanagement" in California. It's unclear what Trump means by this exactly, but he threatened to withhold "Fed payments" to CA as a result.


LA Times: Trump blames fires, erroneously, on California forest management. Firefighters call it a 'shameful attack'

CNN: President Trump's tweet on California wildfires angers firefighters, celebrities

The left focuses on the death and destruction of the wildfires while also criticizing President Trump’s tweet as not being sympathetic to the victims. Articles quote firefighting officials by calling his comments “reckless and insulting to the firefighters and people being affected.” This side also notes that some of the big fires didn't even occur in forests.


The Daily Caller: Trump Issues Ultimatum to Gavin Newsom Over California’s Deadly Wildfires

Breitbart: Donald Trump: ‘Gross Mismanagement of the Forests’ Responsible for California Fires

The right, as usual when agreeing with Trump, puts his name and headline statement in their story’s headlines. The right focuses on Trump’s tweet and the cost of fighting forest fires, without giving much attention to the death and damage caused by the wildfires. The right also takes a combative stance with CA’s newly elected Democratic governor.

Who or what is to blame for these fires?

In CA alone, there have been 7,500+ fires this year burning ~1.7 million acres and causing $3B in damages, making it one of the most destructive in CA history. Trump’s claim that poor forestry management is to blame is a non-traditional culprit, but one worth exploring given the increasing severity of wildfires. However, we should not forget that there are other likely contributing factors: (1) increased fuel (dead trees), (2) changing atmospheric conditions, and (3) home construction in fire zones.

Not a good year for wildfires...



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