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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press President Donald Trump is seen in November surveying damage from a wildfire in Paradise, Calif., with , from left, Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, California Gov. Jerry Brown, Paradise Mayor Jody Jones and FEMA Administrator Brock Long.

Thursday, January 10, 2019 1:00 am

Trump gives wildfire relief threat

Sends tweet that he'll withhold from California

KATHLEEN RONAYNE | Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – President Donald Trump threatened Wednesday to withhold money to help California cope with wildfires, a day after new Gov. Gavin Newsom asked him to double the federal investment in forest management.

Trump again suggested poor forest management is to blame for California's deadly wildfires and said he's ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to stop giving the state money “unless they get their act together.”

Fire scientists say climate change, not poor forest management, is the driving contributor to California's increasingly destructive wildfires, many of which have not been primarily in forests.

FEMA could not comment because of the government shutdown. Trump has previously threatened to withhold wildfire payments.

Hours after Trump's tweet, the state's emergency operations agency said FEMA is extending its deadline for victims of deadly November wildfires to seek assistance.

Newsom, a Democrat who took office Monday, said Californians affected by wildfires “should not be victims to partisan bickering.”

Newsom's office didn't immediately respond to requests for comment about how much money the state has received from FEMA following recent wildfires.

Most FEMA money goes directly to victims through disaster assistance. The agency approved more than $48 million in individual and household assistance related to deadly wildfires in November, according to its website.