By Chris York
Donald Trump has once again raised eyebrows after suggesting the humble rake could solve the problem of California wildfires that have killed at least 76 people in recent days.
Speaking from the scene of the devastation on Saturday, the President refused to acknowledge environmental and climate factors, instead telling reporters of how they deal with fires in Finland.
He said: “You’ve got to take care of the floors. You know the floors of the forest, very important.
“I was with the president of Finland and he said, ‘We have a much different —we’re a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation, and they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things.
“And they don’t have any problem. And when they do, it’s a very small problem.”
California is a drought-stricken region which contains Death Valley, where the world’s hottest temperature of 56.7 °C was recorded in 1913.
Finland is covered in snow for much of the year and a quarter of the country is in the Arctic Circle.
Wow, it’s almost like Finland and California have *completely different climates*, with one having year round rainfall and the other in a drought with strong sunshine and winds. But no, Trump’s right, it’s probably to do with raking https://t.co/86V5Kl9yot
— Hadley Freeman (@HadleyFreeman) November 18, 2018
Asked whether the scenes of devastation had changed his view on climate change, Trump said: “No. I have a strong opinion. I want great climate and we’re going to have that and we’re going to have forests that are very safe.”
It’s not clear what the President meant by “great climate”.
Trump has already drawn criticism for blaming the fires on mismanagement – his first tweet on the wildfires was an attempt to politicise the disaster with no mention of the victims.
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
His comments have not gone down well with residents of the areas affected – one told the Guardian: “My kids lost everything. I voted for him – and now? He can kiss my red ass.
“What he said was ridiculous. It hurts my heart. A lot of us voted for him and he [talks] down to us?”
Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for as wildfires devastate California.
Authorities said five more bodies were found on Saturday, including four in the decimated town of Paradise and one in nearby Concow.
Officials also raised the number of people on the missing persons list, hours after Trump surveyed what remained of a decimated community.
Someone please show Donald Trump a globe so he knows how close to the North Pole Finland is in comparison to Southern California. https://t.co/L0FgA0RL7x
— Billy Procida (@TheBillyProcida) November 17, 2018
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea pleaded with fire evacuees to check the list of people reported as unreachable by family and friends and to call in if they are safe.
Hundreds of people have already been located, but the overall number keeps growing because officials are adding names, including those reported as missing during the disaster’s chaotic early hours, he said.