Trump continues to blame wildfires on forest mismanagement

Anna and William Goodnight of Paradise sit outside their tent at a makeshift evacuation centre for people displaced

President Donald Trump witnessed the devastation Saturday, accompanied by Gov. "We just want to get home", he said.

The deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history, the Camp Fire has destroyed more than 9,800 homes and scorched 148,000 acres since sparking November 8. On Saturday, Brown and the president toured damage from the Camp Fire that killed dozens of people, with almost 1,300 more still unaccounted for.

"We've never seen anything like this in California", Trump said.

"It seems many more people are missing than anyone thought even possible", he told reporters from the White House lawn ahead of his visit.

Justin Sullivan via Getty Images A rescue worker and her cadaver dog search the Paradise Gardens apartments for victims of the Camp Fire on November 16, 2018 in Paradise, California.

His tone seems to have shifted on Saturday, when he flew out to the state to see the destruction for himself, tweeting that he was looking forward to "being with our fearless Firefighters, First Responders, and FEMA".

They were met on the tarmac by Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, both of them Democrats in a state that leans strongly that way.

Brian Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters, said Trump's statement attacking California management and threatening to pull funding was "ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning", adding that almost 60% of California's forests are under federal management.

Senior fire officials recounted how quickly the blaze spread, complicating evacuation efforts, as Trump studied a huge map spread across a table showing where fires continue to burn. His first reaction to the fires came in a tweet last week: "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor". "We're going to have safe forests".

But days after threatening to cut federal funding to California over the alleged "gross mismanagement" of forests, Trump tweeted Friday that he was looking forward to meeting Brown and Newsom, saying, "We are with you!"

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"Let's hope he gets us some help", the Trump voter said at a FEMA assistance center, where she was trying to get a walker for her 72-year-old mom.

Among them was Lolene Rios, 56, whose son Jed tearfully told KXTV in Sacramento that his mother had an "endless amount of love" for him. "Thousands and thousands of homes got destroyed with no trees around", she said at a shelter set up by the American Red Cross in a church.

In the community of Chico, just west of Paradise, volunteers had erected a tented encampment for others forced from their homes.

With each day another story comes that makes it clearer how chaotic it was on the flame-filled and smoky day that the fire erupted.

"That is raw data we're collecting from phone calls, emails and the 911 system", Honea said Saturday.

Over a thousand people are unaccounted for in the fires, and over 70 have been confirmed dead.

Many schools and universities in northern California remain closed; San Francisco also suspended its cable auto service on Friday to encourage residents to remain indoors until the air quality improved. The Golden Gate Bridge was shrouded in thick smog. Unlike, Paradise, which was home to many retirees on modest incomes, Malibu is the classic home of the California dream - for those who can afford it. His great concern now is to find his brother Maurice, his sister in law and his six year old nephew, of whom he has had no news since hell began.

The other major fire front, the Woolsey fire in southern California, has burned through 39,805 hectares, destroyed 836 structures and is now 82 per cent contained. It was 55% contained as of Saturday morning. The fire was reported to have moved through the area at 80 miles per hour.

Mr Brown and Mr Newsom said on Friday they welcomed the president's visit and "now is a time to pull together for the people of California".

While the cause of the Camp Fire is still under investigation, a lawsuit has been filed against the local power company, PG&E, by fire victims claiming negligence.

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