As Firefighters Gain Edge on California Wildfires, President Trump Slams Gov. Gavin Newsom

Ron Brackett and Jan Wesner Childs
Published: November 3, 2019

More evacuees were allowed to return home Sunday as California firefighters continued to make headway against several wildfires that ravaged parts of the state last week.

Even as more of the fires were being contained, President Donald Trump in a series of tweets said California Gov. Gavin Newsom "has done a terrible job of forest management."

"Every year, as the fire’s 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. You don’t see close to the level of burn in other states...." the Republican president tweeted.

Newsom, a Democrat, responded with a tweet of his own, "You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation."

The Los Angeles Times pointed out the fires in Southern California the past few weeks have not burned in forests.

The Maria Fire, which began Thursday, burned on a mountain with citrus and avocado groves.

All 11,000 residents evacuated by the Maria Fire have been allowed to return home. The Ventura County Fire Department reported that the fire, was 50% contained Sunday after burning nearly 15 square miles. It destroyed three structures.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but there were some indications it may have been sparked by a power line.

Utility provider Southern California Edison said Friday that it had reenergized a power line near where the fire started 13 minutes before the blaze broke out, the Associated Press reported. The company had previously reported that one of its power lines malfunctioned near where another fire broke out earlier in the week.

(MORE: Unauthorized Drones Interrupt Efforts to Fight California Wildfire

SCE and other utilities, including Pacific Gas and Electric, the state's largest electricity provider, shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers ahead of the wildfire threat. Power was being restored as the winds died down.

The controversial blackouts aim to prevent fires sparked by power lines and other equipment. PG&E said power had been restored to all customers by Saturday night.

Firefighter create a fire break as the Maria Fire approaches in Santa Paula, Calif., on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019.
(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Power lines were blamed for three smaller fires last weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the AP, and PG&E reported a problem with one of its lines near where the Kincade Fire started. That blaze has scorched more than 120 square miles, destroyed at least 352 buildings and injured four people.

The fast-moving Maria Fire started just southeast of Santa Paula, California, about 6:15 p.m. local time Thursday, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. The fire quickly spread overnight Thursday and into Friday morning.

Structures burned and a mobile home park was quickly evacuated Friday, as shifting winds challenged those fighting the Maria Fire. Video to posted to social media showed devastating damage to one property.

People flying drones had inhibited firefighting efforts earlier in the day.

A wildfire alert camera caught on video the moment the fire ignited and showed its rapid spread.

A structure is engulfed by the advancing Maria Fire Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, in Somis, Calif.
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Meanwhile, firefighters appeared were also gaining ground on other wildfires burning around the state.

Kincade Fire

The Kincade Fire had burned more than 120 square miles and was 76% contained Sunday. An update from Cal Fire showed that the blaze destroyed 372 structures, including 175 homes. Thirty-five homes were damaged. Four people were injured, including two firefighters.

The fire, which started on Oct. 23 near Geyserville had threatened more than 90,000 structures and 126,000 people were under evacuation orders, although many have been allowed to return home.

Hillside Fire

The Hillside Fire in San Bernardino destroyed six homes and damaged 18 others, according to the San Bernardino Fire Department. The fire burned through about 200 acres, shutting down a stretch of Highway 18 Thursday morning. More than 1,300 people were ordered to evacuate.

Six homes were destroyed in the Hillside Fire.
(San Bernardino Fire Department via Twitter)

The evacuation order was lifted Thursday evening and the highway was reopened. By Friday, the fire was 70% contained.

46 Fire

The 46 fire in the Jurupa Valley, east of Los Angeles in Riverside County, began about 12:30 a.m. Thursday and had burned 328 acres and was 95% contained Sunday morning, according to Cal Fire.

Evacuation orders for the 46 Fire were lifted later the same day. Three residential structures and two outbuildings were destroyed, according to a Riverside County Fire Department website.

The fire was ignited when suspects driving a stolen car during a police chase pulled their damaged vehicle into a field, Riverside Police spokesman Officer Ryan Railsback said. Heat from the damaged vehicle and its tires caused the fire, he said. The two suspects will be charged with arson and other offenses, Railsback said.

Hill Fire

The 46 Fire was preceded in the Jurupa Valley by the Hill Fire, which sent one civilian to a hospital with minor injuries.

The Hill Fire began Wednesday morning. It also forced evacuations, including at a nursing home, where several patients in wheelchairs and stretchers were helped out by workers as thick plumes of smoke shot into the sky, KABC-TV reported. Groups of patients were seen wearing face masks, waiting for transportation near a roadway off-ramp.

As of Saturday night, the Hill Fire had burned about 628 acres and was 100% contained, according to Cal Fire. A house and mobile home were damaged.

Easy Fire

The Easy Fire, which had come dangerously close to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Wednesday, was 100% contained as of Sunday morning. The blaze in Ventura County had burned about 3 square miles. Evacuation orders were lifted Thursday morning.

Firefighters battle to protect the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library from the Easy Fire in Simi Valley, California, on Oct. 30, 2019.
(MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

The cause of the fire was under investigation, but Southern California Edison filed a report with state regulators that said it began near power lines owned by the utility, the Associated Press reported.

Getty Fire

The Getty Fire began on the west side of the 405 freeway near the Getty Center about 1:30 a.m. Oct. 28, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said the blaze was started when a tree branch was blown onto a power line by strong winds. The incident was captured on dashcam footage.

Twelve homes were destroyed in the fire and another five were damaged.

The fire burned 745 acres and was 79% contained Saturday when the fire department said no more updates would be issued.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.