US President Donald Trump is threatening to withhold Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money to help California cope with fires if the state doesn’t improve its forest management practices.
Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday that California gets billions of dollars for fires that could have been prevented with better management.
The state’s former top firefighter Ken Pimlott disagrees, saying last month that California leads the nation in clearing away dead trees and thinning areas to remove fuel for fires.
Mr Trump tweeted that “unless they get their act together … I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”
November’s fire in the northern California town of Paradise was the deadliest US fire in a century, killing at least 85 people and destroying nearly 14,000 homes.
His tweet came a day after he delivered his first national address for 2019, saying America is “out of space” to hold any more illegal immigrants.
President Trump said the issue of the Mexican border wall could be solved in a “45 minute meeting”, and did not call a national emergency to secure the $5.7 billion in funds as many political pundits had expected.
“I have invited congressional leadership to the White House tomorrow to get this done,” he said.
“Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs … Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 per cent of which flows across from our southern border.
“Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.”
Trump said the “crisis” remained the reason for the government shutdown the is currently gripping America.