Newsom warns of worsening California fire season, reiterates support for Biden, says he won’t run against Harris

An air tanker drops retardant behind a home while battling the Toll Fire near Calistoga, Calif., Tuesday, July 2, 2024. An extended heat wave blanketing Northern California has resulted in red flag fire warnings and power shutoffs. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Flanked by fire officials, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday warned Californians to be alert as the state heads into what could worse-than-expected fire season, following a brutal heat wave that has dried out vegetation and contributed to five times as many acres burning so this year statewide than normal.

He also urged voters to be vigilant about the upcoming presidential election, reiterating his support for President Biden remaining the Democratic nominee and saying that California “has the most to lose” if Donald Trump wins in November.

“I’m focused on supporting this campaign,” Newsom said of Biden’s re-election effort. “This candidate is a man of character, decency and honor. Contrast that with the darkness that is Donald Trump.”

Asked by a reporter if he still stood by a promise he made last September not to run against Vice President Kamala Harris for president, Newsom said “Of course. Yes.”

Newsom, along with Harris and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, has been mentioned often as a possible replacement for Biden as the Democratic nominee after Biden’s faltering debate performance June 27. But  Newsom has said he supports Biden, and has campaigned actively for him this past week in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Flanked by helicopters, planes and fire commanders at the Cal Fire Aviation Management Unit in Sacramento, Newsom said at a news conference Wednesday that Biden quickly helped California with disaster aid following wildfires and other calamities, while Trump resisted.

“In that past that was not so easy,” he said. “We had to make phone calls, we had to wait days and days, there were threats. That’s not the case today.”

Newsom recalled Trump’s remarks while touring the devastation from the Camp Fire in 2018, a blaze sparked by a PG&E power line that burned the town of Paradise in Butte County to the ground, killing 85 people, the deadliest wildfire in state history.

“You gotta take care of the floors. You know the floors of the forest, very important,” Trump said then. “You look at other countries where they do it differently and it’s a whole different story. I was with the president of Finland and he called it a forest nation, and they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things and they don’t have any problem.”

Wildfire experts noted that many of California’s wildfires have burned in national forests, which are owned and maintained by the federal government, not the state. And that while California has a mostly dry Mediterranean climate, Finland is a Nordic country where temperatures reach -45 F in the winter.

Newsom said Cal Fire officials have hit their target four years in a row for thinning or conducting controlled burns on 100,000 acres or more. The state has 9,700 Cal Fire personnel this summer, compared with 6,700 in 2018, he added.

On issues from the environment to abortion rights, Newsom said, the election is key.

“Everything about this campaign will impact this state disproportionately,” Newsom said. “We were involved with 122 lawsuits with the Trump administration. Don’t you guys remember that? The chaos. …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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