President Donald Trump will travel to California on Saturday to meet with people affected by the state’s deadly and historic wildfires, according to the White House.
Details about locations President Trump will visit were not immediately available.
The visit was announced as the death toll in the Northern California Camp Firegrew to 56. Hundreds more remain unaccounted for in the most destructive and deadliest wildfire on record in California,which devastated the town of Paradise.
Nearly 9,000 homes have been destroyed.
In Southern California, firefighters were taking advantage of calmer wind conditions to increase containment of the 98,000-acre Woolsey Fire. Three deaths were reported in connection with the fire, which began Nov. 8 in Ventura County before burning into Los Angeles County and the Malibu area, destroying at least 500 structures.
Hundreds of thousands of residents across the state have been forced to evacuate.
The visit will be on the heels of Trump’s statements about “forest management” in California. As the fire roared through California communities, he tweeted: “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.”
But scientists who research fire behavior said forest management did not play a major role. They said both nature, including years of drought and strong Santa Ana wind gusts that can quickly spread flames and embers, and humans share some blame.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke joined Gov. Jerry Brown this week on a visit to Paradise.
“Now is not the time to point fingers,” Zinke said. “There are lots of reasons these catastrophic fires are happening.”
Brown said he spoke with Trump, who promised federal assistance.
“This is so devastating that I don’t really have the words to describe it,” Brown said.
The fires’ causes remain under investigation. Both broke out at about the same time and place that two utility companies reported equipment problems.
Fall is historically one of the most dangerous times of the year for wildfires in California. Seven of the state’s 10-most destructive wildfires occurred in October — many fueled by monster winds, including Santa Ana gusts.