At least 59 people have died from the raging wildfires consuming parts of California, making them the deadliest fire disaster in the state’s history.
State officials say a prolonged drought created a “recipe for destruction,” especially for the town of Paradise, north of Sacramento.
Fires have already burned over 110,000 acres and destroyed thousands of homes, including those owned by celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Gerard Butler.
While the fires started in rural areas, they quickly spread to surrounding towns, devouring cars and homes in their path.
According to a study published this year, 84% of wildfires are initiated by humans. The causes include downed power lines, campfires and arson.
And there are dangers beyond the destruction caused by the flames. Air quality in the Bay Area is currently extremely unhealthy, and is endangering people with heart and lung diseases. Residents are advised to stay indoors with windows shut.
According to the California Department of Public Health, even short-term exposure can cause persistent cough, wheezing and phlegm.
President Trump blamed the fires on forest management.
There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018
The president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Harold Schaitberger, said, “His comments are reckless and insulting to the firefighters and people being affected.”
Celebrities and politicians also reacted to the president’s comments. California Democratic State Sen. Henry Stern said, “Fires do not respect politics, though, so I would beg the President to pursue a major disaster declaration and not make this a political incident.”
Katy Perry tweeted:
This is an absolutely heartless response. There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters. https://t.co/DJ4PN26bLZ
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) November 10, 2018
With over 200 people still unaccounted for in the town of Paradise, the death toll is likely to rise.