US & Canada

California fires: Trump threatens to pull federal aid

A firefighter douses flames from a backfire during the Maria fire in Santa Paula, California Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fierce fires have burned thousands of acres of California

US President Donald Trump has threatened to cut federal funding for the wildfires sweeping California, in a Twitter spat with the state's governor.

Nearly 100,000 acres have been destroyed by wildfires in recent weeks, and thousands have been forced from their homes.

Mr Trump blamed Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, saying he had done a "terrible job of forest management".

Several of this year's major wildfires have burned in unforested areas.

"Every year, as the fire's (sic) rage & California burns, it is the same thing - and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor," Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.

Mr Newsom, who has been highly critical of Mr Trump's environmental policies, responded: "You don't believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation."

Increased temperatures due to global warming are causing huge wildfires in California, according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Drier, warmer conditions lead to vegetation drying out and becoming more flammable.

President Trump made a similar threat to cut federal aid in 2018, when the most deadly fire in California's history killed 86 people.

In California, 57% of forested areas are managed by federal agencies such as the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.

In 2018, the state requested $72 million (£55.6 million) in reimbursements from the US Forest Service, with $9 million (£7 million) of that money withheld, the Los Angeles Times reports.

What's happening with the fires?

Firefighters have contained about half of the Maria Fire, the major blaze in southern California.

The fire, which broke out on Thursday, has burned more than 9,400 acres, the Ventura County Fire Department said on Sunday.

The largest blaze, the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, was 76% contained on Sunday after burning nearly 80,000 acres since it started on 23 October, officials said.

All evacuation orders were lifted on Saturday.

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Media captionSmoke from Kincade Fire seen from space

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