Trump threatens to withhold California fire aid, citing state's 'gross mismanagement' of forests

Just hours after President Trump issued an emergency declaration to provide funds to help firefighters in California as they battle at least three major wildfires across the state, the president threatened to withhold the federal payments -- citing the state's "gross mismanagement" of its forests.

Tweeting from Paris early Saturday, Trump wrote that “there is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly fires in California.” He added that “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!”

The Camp Fire in Northern California, which has destroyed nearly 6,500 homes and killed at least nine people, appears to be the most destructive fire in at least a century. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection agency, the fire burned around 100,000 acres and just 20% is contained.

The wildfire in the North incinerated most of the town of Paradise with flames, authorities said Friday. "There was really no firefight involved,” Capt. Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said, adding that the crew had to focus on helping people to get out alive. “These firefighters were in the rescue mode all day yesterday.”

The town, where around 30,000 people live, was struck by the blaze that destroyed nearly 7,000 structures, mostly homes, in just a day.

The fires were also burning in Southern California, where at least two people have died as a result. The Woolsey Fire had grown to more than 35,000 acres and state officials said about 250,000 people were forced to evacuate.

Singers Lady Gaga and Cher, actors Scott Baio and Rainn Wilson, and movie director Guillermo del Toro were among those whose houses are in danger.

TMZ reported that Caitlyn Jenner's 3,500-square-foot mansion was destroyed by the flames, though she said in an Instagram video that she remains unsure "'whether the house made it or not.”

"I heard the flames have hit our property at our home in Hidden Hills but now are more contained and have stopped at the moment. It doesn’t seems like it is getting worse right now, I just pray the winds are in our favor. God is good. I’m just praying everyone is safe," tweeted Kim Kardashian West.

Scott Derrickson, the director of "Doctor Strange," tweeted that the fires took his house. "We lost our home, but we are all safe and that’s the important thing. Gonna be offline for awhile," he wrote.

The historic Paramount Ranch, where HBO's "Westworld" and other Hollywood Westerns were shot, was also destroyed by the blaze.

"This is eerie. So sad for the history lost. Amazed the church is still standing," tweeted "Westworld" star Evan Rachel Wood.

Paramount Ranch, where a number of Hollywood westerns have been filmed, is seen after it was decimated by a wildfire Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, in Augura Hills, Calif.

Paramount Ranch, where a number of Hollywood westerns have been filmed, is seen after it was decimated by a wildfire Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, in Augura Hills, Calif.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), the utility company that provides much of the state with natural gas and electricity, told state regulators Friday that it would cooperate with investigators into the cause of wildfire - dubbed the Camp Fire - in the northern part of the state.

The company said one of its electrical transmission lines in Butte County experienced a problem at 6:15 a.m. Thursday, and Cal Fire (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) officials said the blaze began several minutes later.

The president's declaration of an emergency in the state would allow the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster relief efforts with state officials, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“This action will help alleviate the hardship and suffering that the emergency may inflict on the local population,” a White House release said.

The help will attempt to “avert the threat of a catastrophe” across six California counties -- Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Butte.

FEMA installed Mark Armstrong as the coordinator for federal assistance for the fires.

The announcement came as Trump arrived in Paris on Friday for events marking the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.

The fierce wildfires have raged throughout the state this week. In the southern part of the state, Santa Ana winds were fanning two major wildfires.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.