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Trump Threatens To Cut Federal Fire Assistance To California, Local Fire Chief Says Aid Is Critical

Alpine Fire Protection District Chief Bill Paskle, Nov. 4, 2019.

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: Alpine Fire Protection District Chief Bill Paskle, Nov. 4, 2019.

Once again, President Donald Trump is criticizing California Gov. Gavin Newsom over the handling of wildfires.

"You’ve got fires eating away at California every year because management is so bad," Trump said Sunday. "The governor doesn’t know, he’s like a child he doesn’t know what he’s doing."

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

Trump also said when the state has fires, they look for federal aid but “no more.”

"There’s nothing you can do to prevent those fires when they get started," said Alpine Fire Protection District Chief Bill Paskle. He said federal money is key for helping tackle wildfires.

"We need federal dollars to help that happen because none of our small communities can afford to pay for these," Paskle said.

Reported by Matt Hoffman , Video by Roland Lizarondo

Large fires mean local agencies have to request mutual aid, something the federal government helps pay for.

"For a smaller city like Alpine, or a small agency if one of these large incidents happens — we don’t have the funds to take care of that and this helps reimburse us for those funds," Paskle said.

Losing federal funds would mean fewer crews available to fight fires, Paskle said.

"That would mean a lot of the smaller agencies like mine, small cities that send resources to help mitigate these large campaign fires or large natural disasters wouldn’t be able to do that because they wouldn’t be reimbursed for their time and efforts."

Newsom responded to Trump's tweets on Sunday.

"You don’t believe in climate change," Newsom tweeted. "You are excused from this conversation."

This is not the first time the president has threatened to pull aid from California. And San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob — who's district is prone to large fires — is tired of it.

"To again threaten federal disaster assistance is a huge insult to our fire-scarred communities and a slap in the face of our brave firefighters," Jacob said in a statement to KPBS. "The White House needs to put public safety over politics. The county will continue to do its part by making major investments to improve firefighting and fire prevention."

Despite Trump's threat to cut fire assistance, a Cal Fire spokesman said Monday it has not heard any official word that the state is losing aid.


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Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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