Filipinos safe from western US inferno: DFA

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 15 2020 12:01 PM

Firefighters working the Bobcat Fire at Santa Anita Canyon in Arcadia, Calif., Sunday, Sept., 13, 2020. Wildfires across the West Coast have consumed roughly five million acres of land in California and Oregon and destroyed entire towns in Washington, and they continued to spread on Sunday. Eric Thayer, The New York Times

MANILA -- Filipinos have been spared so far from the ferocious fires engulfing swaths of the US West that have killed at least 35 and forced hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday. 

The DFA "confirms that no Filipinos have so far been reported affected by the recent forest fire incidents across the United States’ West Coast," the agency said in a statement. 

It advised the public to monitor advisories released from the Philippine Consulates General in Los Angeles and in San Francisco for updates and assistance.

The fires across California, Oregon and Washington state have burned more than 5 million acres, torching an area roughly the size of the state of New Jersey, with fears the death toll may rise. 

President Donald Trump on Monday suggested global warming will reverse itself and dismissed climate change as a cause of the deadly blazes. 
 
"It will start getting cooler. You just watch," said Trump, who flew into Sacramento on the third day of a reelection campaign swing. 

"I wish science agreed with you," responded Wade Crowfoot, the head of the California Natural Resources Agency, to which Trump replied: "I don't think science knows, actually." 

Michael Porter, a member of the Nevada Task Force Urban Search and Rescue team, takes a break with Dexter, a dog trained to find human remains, in Talent, Oregon, Sept. 14, 2020. Firefighting teams across the West Coast braced for unpredictable wind gusts and drier weather on Monday, conditions that threatened to make new kindling out of forests and strengthen already dire wildfires. Alisha Jucevic, The New York Times

Trump on his arrival also repeated his argument that the wildfires are due to poor maintenance of forest areas, making them more combustible.

"There has to be strong forest management," he said.

"With regard to the forests, when trees fall down after a short period of time, about 18 months, they become very dry. They become really like a match stick," he added. "They just explode."

Minutes earlier, Democratic challenger Joe Biden assailed Trump from the opposite coast as a "climate arsonist" whose reelection would be catastrophic for the environment.

"If you give a climate arsonist 4 more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze?" Biden said, savaging Trump for failing to "take responsibility" for the ongoing wildfire crisis.

"We need a president who respects science, who understands that the damage from climate change is already here," added Biden, who was speaking in Delaware.

Climate change amplifies droughts, which dry out regions, creating ideal conditions for wildfires to spread out-of-control and inflict unprecedented damage.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, who has argued that the fires are driven mostly by global warming, acknowledged as he met with Trump that better forest management was needed.

But he said the overwhelming cause of the problem is far bigger.

"The hots are getting hotter, the dries are getting drier," he said. "We submit the science is in and observed evidence is self-evident: that climate change is real and that is exacerbating this."

Of at least 35 people killed by the blazes since the beginning of summer, 27 died last week alone.

-- With a report from Agence France-Presse