President Trump pledged to work with California leaders to help the state recover from the deadly Camp Fire during a visit to a burn site in Paradise on Saturday.
"The federal government is behind you, we're all behind you," Trump said, standing between Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Newsom, and in front of Paradise's burned-out landscape. As of Trump's visit on Saturday, the Camp Fire has scorched 148,000 acres and killed at least 71 people, with more than 1,000 still listed as missing.
Trump was also joined by Paradise Mayor Jody Jones, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, U.S. Rep Ken Calvert and FEMA Administrator Brock Long.
The president praised FEMA and law enforcement officials for their work in the aftermath of the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in modern California history.
"Nobody would've ever thought this could happen," Trump said.
Trump's visit comes days after he seemed to blame state officials for contributing to the fire by not having proper forest management techniques, even though 57 percent of the state's forest land is owned by the federal government.
"There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor," Trump tweeted a week before his visit. "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!"
Two days later, Trump approved a major disaster declaration that Brown had requested, providing additional federal resources and money to help the state deal with the fire's devastation.
"The people that are right here — local people, state people — are doing the work," Brown said on Saturday. "Federal government provides some help and a lot of money and some expertise, and somehow we'll pull through it together."
Trump arrived in Chico by helicopter around 11 a.m. Dozens of supporters lined the exit to the airport and the motorcade's route, with many waving U.S. flags. One supporter held a "Welcome President Trump" sign, while another person along the route held one that said, "Our Fault: Really?"
According to Trump, he spoke with Brown and Newsom about what can be done to prevent future disasters, and he said they were all committed to improving forest management, a topic Trump brought up numerous times during his visit.
"I think everybody's seen the light," Trump said. "I don't think we'll have this again to this extent. Hopefully this will be the last of these because this was a really, really bad one."
This post has been updated to clarify the portion of California forests owned by the federal government.