California wildfires: Trump threatens to withdraw federal funding after blaming fire on 'mismanagement'

More than 200,000 people are under mandatory evacuation as the fire rages on

Saturday 10 November 2018 15:35
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Butte county wildfire destroys buildings in California

Donald Trump has been criticised as “heartless” after threatening to withdraw federal payments to California as two deadly wildfires, which have killed at least nine and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, sweep the US state.

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” the US president tweeted. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

His comments came as more than 200,000 people were ordered to evacuate from around 75,000 homes in Los Angeles County, threatened by the 35,000-acre (14,164 hectares) Woolsey Fire.

Some of the mandatory evacuation orders were for residents within the City of Los Angeles in the West Hills area. It was unclear how many homes have been evacuated within the City of Los Angeles.

Celebrities including Will Smith and Lady Gaga were among those forced to flee their homes.

Katy Perry meanwhile called Mr Trump’s comments “absolutely heartless”.

She tweeted: “There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters.”

She earlier praised the firefighters who are working to tackle the blaze, writing: “There’s a lot of unknowns tonight... but what we do know is we are here for you and as a community we will help in any way possible. Immense gratitude to all the brave first responders out there putting their lives on the line for so many families.”

Approximately 500 miles to the north of the Woolsey Fire, nine people were found dead in and around the northern California town of Paradise, where more than 6,700 homes and businesses were burned down by the Camp Fire.

The remains of five of the victims in northern California were discovered in or near burned out cars, three outside residences and one inside a home, said Butte County sheriff Kory Honea.

“This event was the worst-case scenario. It was the event we have feared for a long time,” he said. ”Regrettably, not everybody made it out.”

Another 35 people had been reported missing and three firefighters were injured, he added.

The flames descended on Paradise so quickly that many people were forced to abandon their cars and run for their lives down the sole road through the mountain town.

The Camp Fire, which broke out at the edge of the Plumas National Forest northeast of Sacramento, has since blackened more than 90,000 acres and was only 5 per cent contained as of nightfall on Friday.

Agencies contributed to this report

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