Donald Trump had a simple message for emergency officials in California: “It’ll start getting cooler.”
The US president, who in the past has blamed the widespread blazes on poor forest management, visited the state on Monday.
Wade Crowfoot, California Secretary for National Resources, told Mr Trump: “We had temperatures explode this summer. You may have learned that we broke a world record in Death Valley. 130 degrees [Fahrenheit, 54 degrees celcius], but even in greater LA 120 plus degrees.
“If we ignore that science, put our heads in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed in protecting Californians.”
The president, responded with a smile, saying: “Okay. It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.”
Today 16,500 firefighters are battling 28 major wildfires statewide. The latest numbers on all active wildland fires at: https://t.co/6s2QmGvwFipic.twitter.com/KjMggPUNs9
— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) September 14, 2020
The state official replied: “I wish science agreed with you.”
Mr Trump added: “Oh well. I don’t think science knows actually.”
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More than 30 people have been killed in the fires raging across the west coast states of Oregon, California and Washington.
Thousands of homes, more than four million acres and half dozen small towns have been destroyed since August.
In Oregon, where state officials have said they expect “mass casualty incidents”, search-and-rescue teams have been going through gutted homes in more than half a dozen communities looking for human remains.
Around 40,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in the state.
Joe Biden, Mr Trump’s Democratic challenger in November’s presidential election, condemned his opponent’s lack of “leadership” in combating climate change, calling him a “climate arsonist”.
California Governor Gavin Newsom admitted to reporters that the state can do a better job of forest management.
But he insisted it is “self-evident that climate change is real and is exacerbating this.”