(CNN)President Donald Trump on Friday night thanked the firefighters and first responders battling the historic wildfires raging in the western part of the United States, after weeks of remaining largely silent on the fires that have killed over two dozen people and burned millions of acres.
“THANK YOU to the 28,000+ Firefighters and other First Responders who are battling wildfires across California, Oregon, and Washington,” Trump posted on Twitter. The President said he approved funds to “support their brave work” and added, “We are with them all the way!”
The President hasn’t tweeted about the devastating wildfires over the past few weeks, despite regularly posting to his Twitter feed. His relative silence adds to his history of offering little empathy in the face of natural disasters, and tendency to attack Democratic leaders for their handling of crises.
The President last addressed the wildfires during an August 23 news conference, announcing the approval of a disaster declaration for California and that the federal government had deployed over 26,000 first responders and personnel to the area.
“Our hearts go out to the thousands of families who have lost their homes,” he said. “As we grieve for the families of two first responders and five residents who have tragically lost their lives in a very horrific fire — one of the biggest we’ve ever seen.”
During a mid-August rally, as flames burned north of the Bay Area, his familiar response was to blame the state’s forest management for not heeding his advice of cleaning the forests’ floors.
The White House said 24 fire management grants have been approved since mid-August for Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Trump also approved an emergency declaration for Oregon on Thursday.
The President is likely to see firsthand evidence of the devastating fires out West when he visits Reno, Nevada, on Saturday, as the National Weather Service in Reno issued a dense smoke advisory through Sunday. A historic figure of more than 3.1 million acres have burned in California, which experts and state leaders contribute to climate change.
Trump has been skeptical about the climate crisis, even burying a study in 2018 produced by his own administration warning of the potentially catastrophic impact of climate change.
As of Saturday morning, at least 26 people have been killed in the wildfires and dozens more are missing, officials say. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate and hundreds have lost their homes in the massive infernos. The victims include a 1-year-old boy in Washington state and a young teen in Oregon, who in his last moments huddled with his dog inside a car as it was engulfed in flames.