Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Trump's Fire Tweets Decried as Congressional Delegation Urges Disaster Declaration

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 6:31 PM

click to enlarge Map of the Mendocino Complex. - CALFIRE
  • Calfire
  • Map of the Mendocino Complex.
With the Mendocino Fire Complex — an explosive combination of the River and Ranch fires — now officially ranked as the largest in California’s history at nearly 300,000 acres, a congressional delegation sent a letter today urging President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster in Mendocino, Lake and Napa counties.

The move would free up federal resources for firefighting and recovery efforts, something Trump did Saturday for Shasta County in response to the devastating Carr Fire that has killed at least seven people, destroyed more than 1,000 homes and burned more than 167,000 acres, according to Calfire’s latest report.

The most up-to-date fire information, including road closures and evacuations, can be found at www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents and inciweb.nwcg.gov/.

The bipartisan request comes amid the backdrop of the widely debunked and disparaged tweet Trump sent out Sunday that declared: “California’s wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren't allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean.”
About five hours earlier he tweeted: “Governor Jerry Brown must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Can be used for fires, farming and everything else. Think of California with plenty of Water - Nice! Fast Federal govt. approvals.”
Among the president’s critics were scientists, who said Trump erroneously assigned blame for the state’s ripe wildfire conditions related to climate change to ongoing conflicts over water rights despite a lack of correlation and no shortage of water and retardant to fight the blazes, according to news reports.

Also taking umbrage were North Coast elected officials, who decried the jab aimed at Gov. Jerry Brown as California residents were suffering.

Those included Congressman Jared Huffman, an outspoken critic of Trump and one of those leading the effort for the tri-county disaster declaration, who tweeted Monday that even “President Sh**-for-brains” knew his comments were “bunk.”
“He tweets a lie to get a rise from his base,” Huffman wrote. “What a disgrace to our heroic firefighting efforts and the thousands whose lives have been wrecked by these fires. This nightmare presidency can't end soon enough.”

In a follow-up post the same day, Huffman stated: “The #CarrFire and #MendocinoComplex fires are challenging enough for communities, first responders, and agency officials who are trying to help without all of this absurd and unnecessary confusion from the President & his allies.”
Assemblymember Jim Wood retweeted the latter, saying Huffman “said it well” and adding #Stop #Tweeting, while state Sen. Mike McGuire tweeted a response asking Trump to “focus on the loss.”
“It may have been hard to tell from your golf course this morning, but thousands of #California residents are suffering desperately from these devastating blazes,” McGuire wrote. “#Firefighters and family members have died from these fires.”
More than a dozen fires are currently burning up and down the state with the worst currently centered in the Mendocino/Lake county regions and the Shasta/Trinity areas, where thousands have lost their homes and at least seven have died.

In Humboldt County, smoke from fires to the north, south and east is expected to continue impacting the region,  the North Coast Unified Air Management District said Tuesday.

Read the Congressional delegation’s letter supporting a disaster declaration below:

Dear Mr. President:

Today, we write in support of the State of California’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance and Public Assistance as a result of the devastating wildfires in Lake, Mendocino, and Napa Counties.

California has experienced an unusual amount of wildfire activity — with 16 wildfires burning simultaneously throughout the state. These fires have been exacerbated by the weather, which is exceptionally hot and dry. Daytime highs and nighttime lows have averaged 10 degrees above normal and drought conditions prevail. We appreciate your swift approval of a Major Disaster Declaration for Shasta County for the Carr Fire, as well as of Fire Management Assistance Grants, to help our state fight these devastating fires. As you know, the Carr Fire that began its devastating impact in Shasta County has also crossed into Trinity County, where mandatory evacuation orders were issued and additional assistance may be required.

On July 27, 2018, the River and Ranch Fires ignited in Mendocino County and quickly crossed into Lake County. These two fires, collectively known as the Mendocino Complex Fire, subsequently exploded in size, threatening highly populated areas within Lake County. They have scorched more than 280,000 acres and forced the entire population of Upper Lake and the City of Lakeport to evacuate. The Mendocino Complex Fire continues to grow at an alarming rate, and is now the largest fire in our state’s history. It is only 30 percent contained.

In addition, on the evening of July 28, 2018, the Steele Fire ignited in Napa County. Though smaller in size than the Carr or Mendocino Complex Fires, the Steele Fire has already been extremely destructive. Residents were forced to flee with almost no prior notice, as the fire destroyed homes soon after ignition.

These catastrophic fires are a disaster of major scope and consequence. Therefore, we strongly support the State of California’s request for a major disaster declaration for these communities. We appreciate your consideration of this request and stand ready to assist you in expediting support and resources to the communities afflicted by this terrible tragedy.

North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District release:
Fires remain active throughout Oregon and Northern California. The fires with the potential to impact our area (depending on conditions) are the Klondike and Natchez Fire (Southern Oregon), Carr Fire (Shasta/Eastern Trinity County), Mendocino Complex (Lake/Mendocino County). In the north, morning Northeast winds around the Oregon fires will shift to Northwest in the evening. Smoke will be localized and into the drainages to the South of the fires with downslope winds trapping smoke in the evening. Along the coast, haze and periods of smoke are expected in the afternoon and evening depending on conditions. Smoke impacts from the Carr Fire in Trinity County are expected to remain minor and intermittent until Wednesday. The Mendocino Complex remains active with a forecast of Southerly winds bringing potential smoke impacts Northward sometime Wednesday. Particulate Matter (PM2.5) monitors are presently in Gasquet, Klamath, Weitchpec, Orleans, Hoopa, Weaverville, and Eureka. Updates will be provided as conditions change. For 24-hour Air Quality Advisory Information, call toll-free at 1-866-BURN-DAY (1-866-287- 6329). Fire information can be found at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/ or at www.calfire.ca.gov. Current weather information can be found at www.wrh.noaa.gov.

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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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