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    A motorists on Highway 101 watches flames from the Thomas fire leap above the roadway north of Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.

    Dry Climate, Urban Planning Miscues to Blame for California Fires

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    Wildfires in northern and southern California continued to spread over the holiday weekend, resulting in 44 deaths and becoming the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.

    Fred Magdoff, professor emeritus of plant and soil science at the University of Vermont, joined Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear Tuesday to discuss California's wildfires.

    ​"There have been dry conditions in California for close to five years, with one year it being pretty wet but not enough to undo all of the dry conditions. It is pretty dry at this time of the year, which is when the rain normally comes," Magdoff told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.

    "The rains haven't been very plentiful, and the summers were exceptionally hot. It was a hot summer around the world. It has been dry, and you put those two together, you have a potential for catastrophe combined with another factor, that is the building of urban or suburban areas next to wild lands, forests, scrub land, bushes and things like that. Once you have that interface where you are very close, you are set up for catastrophe," Magdoff noted, also adding that climate change has most definitely played a role.

    On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said that he has approved a Major Disaster Declaration for the wildfire-ravaged state of California, Sputnik previously reported.

    The declaration was requested by California Governor Jerry Brown as the natural disaster continues to grow in the western state. Trump declared a state of emergency in California on Saturday.

    "I just approved an expedited request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of California. Wanted to respond quickly in order to alleviate some of the incredible suffering going on. I am with you all the way. God Bless all of the victims and families affected," Trump tweeted Tuesday.

    However, on Saturday, Trump also tweeted that the state's wildfires are caused by poor forest management.

    "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor," Trump tweeted. "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!"

    ​"It's ridiculous, like most of the things he tweets," Magdoff told Sputnik. "It has no basis in reality. It's a silly thing to tweet, especially so in the midst of the fires. The insensitivity of it is an understatement. The gross misuse of communications by the person that holds the highest office in the country. It's unbelievable," he added.

    Trump's tweets also angered firefighters' organizations, who accused the president of politicizing an environment disaster.

    "I personally find that statement very hurtful to all first responders, who are putting their lives on the line to protect lives and property," Daryl Osby, the Los Angeles County fire chief, said during a Monday press conference, Bloomberg reported. "We're in extreme climate change now. We can't control the climate." 

    Scott Austin, president of the Pasadena Firefighters Association, also replied to Trump's tweet, writing, "Mr. President, with all due respect, you are wrong. The fires in So. Cal are urban interface fires and have NOTHING to do with forest management. Come to SoCal and learn the facts & help the victims."

    Three major fires are currently raging in California, with the Camp Fire hitting its north, and the Woolsey Fire and the Hill Fire hitting its south. The disaster, which started on Thursday and quickly spread across the state, has already destroyed about 7,000 buildings and devastated more than 42,000 hectares of the state's territory.

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    California Fires, Donald Trump, California, United States
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