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California wildfires: Trump to visit Monday for update on devastation

Michael Collins and Grace Hauck USA TODAY

Published 2:09 PM EDT Sep 12, 2020

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will travel to California on Monday for an update on the wildfires that have scorched parts of the state.

Trump will visit McClellan Park in Sacramento County, where he will be briefed by local and federal fire and emergency officials, the White House said Saturday. McClellan Park has served as the base for firefighter operations in the state

The California stop will come on the last day of a three-day presidential swing through the West, which begins Saturday and includes campaign events in Nevada and Arizona.

Since mid-August, Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom have spoken by phone, and the White House and Federal Emergency Management Agency have remained in contact with state and local officials throughout the response to the disasters, White House spokesman Judd Deere said.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a press conference Friday that she also had spoken with the president Thursday evening to explain to him that the situation on the ground was “extremely dire.”

“He said you have all of our support, please let us know what you need, and God bless Oregon,” Brown said.

More: California governor signs bill giving prisoners battling wildfires a shot at becoming pro firefighters

Trump publicly addressed the fires for the first time Friday on Twitter, thanking the 28,000 firefighters and first responders battling the fires in California, Oregon and Washington.Trump said he has approved 37 Stafford Act Declarations, authorizing the FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.

The president has approved a major disaster declaration for California, which began Aug. 14, for individual and public assistance. The administration also has approved 10 fire management assistance grants and 24 grants for other Western states. The grants provide a 75% federal cost share for the mitigation, management and control of fires.

Trump and his administration continue to monitor wildfires impacting states across the West, including Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, Deere said.

More than 26,000 federal personnel and 230 helicopters have been deployed to the region to fight these fires.

Tragic tale: ‘Don’t come back until you find him’: The harrowing story of a father’s desperate attempt to save his son in the Oregon wildfires

At least 26 people have died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed in the fires in several states. California has reported at least 19 deaths, while Oregon has reported 6 and Washington state has had one.

California has experienced five of its 10 largest fires in history this year, as well as two of its 20 most deadly. This fire season, more than 6,300 structures have been damaged or destroyed, and nearly 5,000 square miles have been burned, according to Cal Fire.

Oregon and Washington state have also been hit hard. More than 1,400 square miles have burned in Oregon, and nearly 1,000 square miles in Washington state.

Michael Collins covers the White House. Reach him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.

Devastation: ‘We have never seen this’: 10% of Oregon faces evacuation; death toll at 26 from Western wildfires

Published 2:09 PM EDT Sep 12, 2020

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