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Trump Blames Forest Management For Wildfires Again During California Visit

President Trump visited Paradise, Calif., with Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom and Mayor Jody Jones. The town was consumed by the Camp Fire, the most destructive fire in state history.

Updated at 10:00 p.m. ET

President Trump visited fire-ravaged areas of California on Saturday, meeting with people affected by the wildfires. At least 76 people were killed in the Camp Fire in Northern California, and nearly 1,300 people have been reported missing, making it the most destructive and deadly wildfire in California state history.

Trump traveled to the mountain town of Paradise, where many homes were burned to the ground. "Hopefully this is going to be the last of these because this was a really, really bad one," Trump said while visiting an recreational vehicle park in the town. "Right now, we want to take care of the people who have been so badly hurt."

"Nobody would have ever thought this could happen," Trump continued.

The president toured the area with several officials, including Paradise Mayor Jody Jones, California Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long.

The Trump administration granted requests for a presidential emergency declaration and federal funds to help battle the fires.

The funding was granted despite a tweet by Trump last week in which he blamed forest management for the fires. "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor," Trump tweeted, threatening to cut off federal funding for forest management. "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!"

Trump's tweet drew widespread criticism.

After his visit to Paradise, Trump maintained that forest management needs to be improved.

When asked whether climate change was a factor, Trump said, "I think you have a lot of factors," before turning back to the subject of forest management, "Right now, that seems to be a very big problem."

When asked whether the fire had changed his mind on climate change, Trump said, "No, no."

The president did have praise for first responders in California. "They're out there fighting and they're fighting like hell ... It's like total devastation," Trump said.

Along his travel route, Trump was greeted by onlookers holding signs of welcome, and others carrying signs of protest. This is Trump's second visit to California as president.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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