Trump takes helicopter tour of scorched California landscape

Trump takes helicopter tour of scorched California landscape

President Donald Trump took a helicopter tour Saturday over the Northern California landscape scorched by a killer wildfire. A full cover of haze and the smell of smoke greeted the president upon his arrival at an Air Force base, as did the governor and his successor.

Trump planned to hear from those leaders about the dire situation and talk with first responders, and later was expected to travel several hundred miles south to visit with victims of a recent country music bar shooting.

“Look forward to being with our brave Firefighters, First Responders and @FEMA, along with the many brave People of California. We are with you all the way – God Bless you all!” Trump tweeted while heading west on Air Force One.

Landing at Beale Air Force Base, he was greeted by Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, both Democrats. Trump boarded Marine One without making public remarks.

“I think that the biggest message and the biggest takeover will be the president saying, ‘We’re here,’ and thankfully the president’s got big shoulders, and I think he’s going to go there to offer them up to people that need somebody to lean on,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Friday on the Fox News Channel.

President Donald Trump heads to Northern California to see firsthand the grief and devastation from the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century (Nov. 17)

The president, who left Washington early Saturday and didn’t expect to return to the White House until well past midnight, planned to get a firsthand look at the devastation from the wildfire that has destroyed the town of Paradise and heavily damaged the outlying community of Magalia. At least 71 people have died, and authorities are trying to locate more than 1,000 people, though not all are believed missing. More than 5,500 fire personnel were battling the blaze that covered 228 square miles (590 square kilometers) and was about 50 percent contained, officials said.

Trump also was expected to stop in Southern California, where a gunman killed a dozen people at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks on Nov. 7 before committing suicide.

The White House schedule said Air Force One was to land at Beale Air Force Base near Sacramento about 12:45 p.m. EST but listed no specific events until his early Sunday return to Washington.

Trump told reporters at the White House before he left on the trip that “we’re making two stops.” Sanders, in the Fox News Channel interview with her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who was filling in for Sean Hannity, spoke of plans for viewing “the scenes of the horrific wildfires that have ravaged California but also talking with some of the people and the families that were impacted by the shooting there not too long ago.”

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