By Agence France-Presse
President Donald Trump will fly Saturday to California to meet victims of wildfires that have killed at least 59 people and destroyed the homes of thousands, the White House said Thursday.
At least 300 people are still missing and the death toll is expected to rise as recovery teams conduct house-to-house searches amid the wreckage of the sprawling blazes in northern and southern California.
Trump will “meet with individuals impacted by the wildfires,” a White House spokeswoman said.
Fifty-six of the deaths and most of those unaccounted for are from the Butte County town of Paradise in northern California, which was decimated by the so-called Camp Fire that erupted a week ago.
Trump initially showed little sympathy for the famously liberal state as the death toll began to mount, blaming poor forest management in a tweet posted on Friday that also threatened to cut federal funding.
“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!” he said.
Virtually every home in Paradise, a town of around 26,000 located 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of the state capital Sacramento, was destroyed by the fire, which was fueled by high winds.
The Butte County Sheriff’s Office published a list late Wednesday of about 300 people who are missing. Some may have fled their homes and not been in touch with family and friends but others are believed to have died in the fast-moving Camp Fire.
At the southern end of the state the Woolsey Fire has razed 98,000 acres (39,660 hectares) and has been 57 percent contained.
A number of celebrities have lost their homes in Malibu as a result of the inferno, including Pierce Brosnan, Miley Cyrus, Neil Young, Robin Thicke, Shannen Doherty and Gerard Butler.