FACT SHEET: Trump Ignored And Refused To Help Prevent Wildfires

Donald Trump has largely ignored the wildfires that have engulfed the West Coast and led to evacuation orders for 500,000 Americans. Instead of doing more to help prevent wildfires, Trump has denied that climate change is causing the fires, falsely blamed poor forest management, and even threatened to withhold federal aid for combating wildfires.

Trump denied climate change was the cause and instead blamed poor “forest management” as the reason for increasingly severe wildfires

  • TRUMP: “And actually, they mocked me. They said, oh, what’s he doing? He’s talking about sweeping the floors. Well, I don’t use the word sweeping. But you have to have forest management.”

  • TRUMP: “I went to the fires in California and I said, ‘It’s also management.’ It’s a lot of things happening, but it’s management. You can’t have dirty floors. You can’t have 20 years of leaves and fallen trees. After the first 17 months, they say the tree is like a piece of tinder. You have to be very careful. So you can’t have that. That’s why you have so many fires.”

  • TRUMP: “Old trees are sitting there, rotting and drying. And instead of cleaning it up, they don’t touch them, they leave them. And we end up with these massive fires that we’re paying hundreds of billions of dollars for to fix, and the destruction is incredible.”

  • TRUMP: “It’s not a global warming thing, it’s a management situation.”

Trump repeatedly threatened to withhold federal aid from California for combating wildfires because they refused to take his advice to “clean” the forests.

  • TRUMP: “They have many, many years of leaves and broken trees. And they’re like, so flammable. You touch them and it goes up. I’ve been telling them this now for three years, but they don’t want to listen. The environment, the environment. But they have massive fires again in California. Maybe we’re just going to have to make them pay for it because they don’t listen to us.”

  • TRUMP: “The Governor of California, @GavinNewsom, has done a terrible job of forest management. I told him from the first day we met that he must ‘clean’ his forest floors regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him. Must also do burns and cut fire stoppers. Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing-and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor. You don’t see close to the level of burn in other states.”

  • TRUMP: “We’re tired of giving California hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars all the time for their forest fires when you wouldn’t have them if they manage their forests properly.”

Trump’s comments about forest management ignore the fact climate change contributes to worsening fires, and that most of California’s forests are federally managed.

  • PolitiFact: “Trump’s comments drew sharp rebukes from firefighters and state officials, both for the threat to withhold funding during an emergency and for oversimplifying the reasons the fires are so destructive.”

  • Politico: “Trump’s suggestions have prompted head-scratching from experts who say his prescriptions — more raking, less water released into the ocean for environmental purposes — suggest he does not understand the science of wildfires. Critics also point out that most of California’s wildlands are federally managed.”

Trump was nearly silent for weeks as record wildfires ravaged California and other parts of the West Coast.

  • CNN: “The president hasn’t tweeted about the devastating wildfires over the past few weeks, despite regularly posting to his Twitter feed. his relative silence adds to his history of offering little empathy in the face of natural disasters, and tendency to attack Democratic leaders for their handling of crises.”