News ID: 274185
Published: 0256 GMT September 14, 2020

Trump has head 'in the sand' as fires rage: LA mayor

Trump has head 'in the sand' as fires rage: LA mayor

Top US officials in West Coast states where record-breaking fires have killed 35 people accused President Donald Trump on Sunday of being in denial about climate change.

"This is climate change, and this is an administration that's put its head in the sand," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, according to AFP.

History-making infernos have burned through nearly five million acres (two million hectares), an area roughly the size of the state of New Jersey and an annual record – with nearly four months of the fire season still to come.

Officials warned of further fatalities with swathes of land in California, Oregon and Washington still cut off by flames fueled by tinder-dry conditions of the kind climate change causes. 

Of the at least 35 people killed by the blazes since the beginning of summer, 25 died this week alone. Dozens were still missing on Sunday. 

Trump has made little comment about the blazes in recent weeks, but at a Nevada campaign event on Saturday he acknowledged the scope of the disaster.

"They never had anything like this," said Trump, who systematically downplays global warming. "Please remember the words, very simple, forest management."

Garcetti hit back, saying that "anybody that lives in California is insulted by that."

"Talk to a firefighter if you think that climate change isn't real," he said.

"We need real action. We need to reduce the carbon emissions that we have. And we need to make sure we can manage this water. This isn't about forest management or raking."

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Saturday it was "undeniable" that "climate change poses an imminent, existential threat to our way of life."

His running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, backed him up Sunday on Twitter, saying Trump "denies the evidence."

Worsening the sense of doom, five of the world's 10 most air-polluted cities Sunday were on the West Coast, according to IQAir, with dense smog and ash coating the atmosphere from Los Angeles up to Vancouver in Canada.

"It's apocalyptic," Washington state Governor Jay Inslee told ABC's "This Week."

"It's maddening right now we have this cosmic challenge to our communities, the entire West Coast of the United States on fire, to have a president to deny that these are not just wildfires, these are climate fires," he said.

More than 20,000 firefighters are battling the blazes, with officials warning that cooler weather could end Monday as warmer, drier conditions return.

Most of the fatalities have occurred in California and Oregon. 

Near the Beachie Creek Fire, east of Oregon state capital Salem, police had set up multiple road blockades on Sunday. Long lines of cars stretched in front of them, waiting in the thick fog to pass through.

Many were farmers trying to go home and feed their livestock.




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