Trump tours Paradise area, calls wildfire a 'really bad one'

PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — From the ashes of a mobile home and RV park, President Donald Trump said Saturday he came to the heart of California's killer wildfire to fully grasp the scale of the desolation wrought on the landscape.

"We're going to have to work quickly. ... Hopefully this is going to be the last of these because this was a really, really bad one," said the president, standing amid the crumpled foundations of homes and twisted steel of melted cars.

"I think everybody's seen the light and I don't think we'll have this again to this extent," Trump said in Paradise, the town largely destroyed by a wildfire ignited Nov. 8 that he called "this monster."

See images of the devastation:

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Camp Fire, Hill Fire and Woolsey Fire sweep across California
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Camp Fire, Hill Fire and Woolsey Fire sweep across California
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 09: The Woolsey Fire burns towards Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
This photo taken from video provided by CBS2/KCAL9 shows a wildfire burning in Camarillo, Calif., Thursday afternoon, Nov. 8, 2018. Known as the Hill fire, it here has crossed U.S. Highway 101, at center right, potentially threatening hundreds of homes. (CBS2/KCAL9 via AP)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Horses are spooked as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 inAgoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
Medical personnel evacuate patients as the Feather River Hospital burns while the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
The massive plume from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon near Paradise, Calif., wafts over the Sacramento Valley as seen from Chico, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Authorities in Northern California have ordered mandatory evacuations in a rural area where the wildfire has grown to 1,000 acres (405 hectares) amid hot and windy weather. (David Little/Chico Enterprise-Record via AP)
A home burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
This photo provided by Nicole Kowalczyke shows a piece of a burned page that fell out of the sky in Chico, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, as the Camp Fire burns nearby. (Nicole Kowalczyke via AP)
Medical personnel evacuate patients as the Feather River Hospital burns while the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
People wear masks while walking through the Financial District in the smoke-filled air Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, in San Francisco. Authorities have issued an unhealthy air quality alert for parts of the San Francisco Bay Area as smoke from a massive wildfire drifts south, polluting the air. Officials say the thousands of structures in the town of Paradise, 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, were destroyed by the blaze that has charred 110 square miles (285 square kilometers). (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Travis Lundgren, a street maintenance worker, uses a cooler of ice and water to help put out a flair up along Rancho Conejo Blvd. during the Hill Fire in Thousand Oaks, CA, on Thursday, Nov 8, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
PORTER RANCH, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 09: The Woolsey Fire is seen looking towards the west valley area on November 9, 2018 in Porter Ranch, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
A statue rests amid a charred lot as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: The Hill Fire burns in the hills east of Conejo Center Drive in Thousand Oaks, CA, on Thursday, Nov 8, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
Smoke from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon near Paradise, Calif., darkens the sky as seen from Highway 99 near Marysville, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Don Thompson)
A home burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town.(AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Smoke from wildfires burning in Northern California obscures the Sierra Nevada in this view from an airliner approaching Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. The director of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services says fires across California have forced 157,000 people from their homes. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
Smoke from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon near Paradise, Calif., darkens the sky above the Butte College sig in Oroville, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Don Thompson)
A police officer mans a checkpoint in front of an advancing wildfire Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, near Newbury Park, Calif. The Ventura County Fire Department has ordered evacuation of some communities in the path of the fire, which erupted a few miles from the site of Wednesday night's deadly mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks bar. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Smoke from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon near Paradise, Calif., darkens the sky Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Don Thompson)
The Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
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A charred animal rests on a roadside as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Flames consume a home as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. A California fire official says a fast-moving wildfire in Northern California has destroyed structures and injured civilians. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Medical workers move equipment from a makeshift emergency room while the Feather River Hospital burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
The Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A home burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town.(AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A vintage car rests among debris as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Flames consume a building as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. A California fire official says a fast-moving wildfire in Northern California has destroyed structures and injured civilians. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
The setting sun turns blood red as it peers through smoke from the Camp Fire in northern Calif., Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Don Thompson)
A charred animal rests on a roadside as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Nurse Cassie Lerossignol hugs as coworker as the Feather River Hospital burns while the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Medical personnel evacuate patients as the Feather River Hospital burns while the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A police officer directs traffic at a checkpoint in front of an advancing wildfire Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, near Newbury Park, Calif. The Ventura County Fire Department has also ordered evacuation of some communities in the path of the fire, which erupted a few miles from the site of Wednesday night's deadly mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks bar. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
PORTER RANCH, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 09: The Woolsey Fire is seen looking towards the Oak Park area on November 9, 2018 in Porter Ranch, California. 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
A home burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A wildfire comes down from a hilltop Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, near Newbury Park, Calif. The Ventura County Fire Department has ordered evacuation of some communities in the path of the fire, which erupted a few miles from the site of Wednesday night's deadly mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks bar. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Flames consume a car and building as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Plumes of smoke loom in the sky several miles away, seen behind a home in Thousand Oaks, Calif., as a wind-driven wildfire known as the Hill fire threatens the area late Thursday afternoon, Nov. 4, 2018. This is a few miles from the scene of Wednesday's mass shooting at the Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks. (AP Photo/Kathleen Ronayne)
This photo provided by Nicole Kowalczyke shows smoke and ash from the nearby Camp Fire in Chico, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (Nicole Kowalczyke via AP)
This photo provided by Nicole Kowalczyke shows heavy traffic with smoke and ash from the nearby Camp Fire overhead in Chico, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (Nicole Kowalczyke via AP)
Smoke from the Camp Fire darkens the sky on the horizon as a bulldozer cuts a fire line to protect Butte College in Oroville, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Don Thompson)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: A water dropping helicopter heads to fill up as the sun sets during the Hill Fire in Thousand Oaks, CA, on Thursday, Nov 8, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: A firefighter releases water dropping helicopters after they filled up near Conejo Center Drive during the Hill Fire in Thousand Oaks, CA, on Thursday, Nov 8, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: The Hill Fire burns in the hills east of Conejo Center Drive in Thousand Oaks, CA, on Thursday, Nov 8, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 08: The Hill Fire burns in the hills east of Conejo Center Drive in Thousand Oaks, CA, on Thursday, Nov 8, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
A home burns during the Camp fire in Paradise, California on November 8, 2018. - More than 18,000 acres have been scorched in a matter of hours burning with it a hospital, a gas station and dozens of homes. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
The Hill wildfire burns in the predawn hours of Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, seen from Agoura Hills in Southern California. The director of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services says fires across California have forced 157,000 people from their homes. The fire near the Northern California town of Paradise has grown to nearly 110 square miles (285 square kilometers). (AP Photo/Haven Daley)
Smoke from wildfires burning in Northern California obscures the Sierra Nevada in this view from an airliner approaching Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. The director of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services says fires across California have forced 157,000 people from their homes. The fire near the Northern California town of Paradise has grown to nearly 110 square miles (285 square kilometers). Another fire northwest of Los Angeles has been swept southward toward the ocean by strong Santa Ana winds. Evacuation orders were issued for residents of the beachside community of Malibu. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
Strong winds blow smoke horizontally over the the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean over the city of Malibu, far distance, in Southern California, seen from the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles Friday morning, Nov. 9, 2018. The director of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services says fires across California have forced 157,000 people from their homes. The fire near the Northern California town of Paradise has grown to nearly 110 square miles (285 square kilometers). Another fire northwest of Los Angeles has been swept southward toward the ocean by strong Santa Ana winds. Evacuation orders were issued for residents of the beachside community of Malibu. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
Firefighter Adrien Mahnke pauses while battling the Camp Fire as it tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town and destroyed hundreds of structures. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Flames consume a car dealership as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town and destroyed hundreds of structures. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Flames burn inside a van as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town and destroyed hundreds of structures. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
REFILE - QUALITY REPEAT An abandoned vehicle is seen on a road during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
An American flag is seen at an engulfed car dealership during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
PORTER RANCH, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 09: The Woolsey Fire is seen looking towards the west valley area on November 9, 2018 in Porter Ranch, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
PORTER RANCH, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 09: The Woolsey Fire is seen looking towards the west valley area on November 9, 2018 in Porter Ranch, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Firefighters from various departments work to protect structures as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 09: A South Pasadena Fire Department engine fights the Woolsey Fire as it moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 09: The Woolsey Fire burns along the ridgeline off of Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on the morning of November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
AGOURA HILLS , CA - NOVEMBER 09: Firefighters from various departments work to protect structures as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Firefighters from various departments work to protect structures as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
AGOURA HILLS , CA - NOVEMBER 09: Firefighters from various departments work to protect structures as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
AGOURA HILLS , CA - NOVEMBER 09: Firefighters from various departments work to protect structures as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
AGOURA HILLS , CA - NOVEMBER 09: Firefighters from various departments work to protect structures as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
AGOURA HILLS , CA - NOVEMBER 09: Firefighters from various departments work to protect structures as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
AGOURA HILLS , CA - NOVEMBER 09: Firefighters from various departments work to protect structures as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
AGOURA HILLS , CA - NOVEMBER 09: Firefighters from various departments work to protect structures as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Horses are spooked as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 inAgoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
AGOURA HILLS , CA - NOVEMBER 09: Firefighters from various departments work to protect structures as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Horses are spooked as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 inAgoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
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With that bold and perhaps unlikely prediction, Trump pledged that improved forest management practices will diminish future risks. The declaration evoked his initial tweeted reaction to the fire, the worst in the state's history, in which he seemed to blame local officials and threatened to take away federal funding.

Hours later and hundreds of miles to the south, Trump found similar signs of devastation in the seaside conclave of Malibu, one of the areas of Southern California ravaged by wildfires. Palm trees stood scorched and some homes were burned to the ground on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

At least 71 people died across Northern California, 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.

When asked in Paradise if seeing the historic devastation, which stretched for miles and left neighborhoods destroyed and fields scorched, altered his opinion on climate change, Trump answered, "No."

The president has long voiced skepticism about man's impact on the climate and has been reluctant to assign blame to a warming earth for the increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters.

For Trump, it was a day to comfort a state grieving from twin tragedies, wildfires in Northern and Southern California as well as a mass shooting Nov. 7 at a popular college bar north of Los Angeles.

Trump said he would meet with people impacted by the shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks before returning to Washington. The meeting was expected to be closed to reporters.

Wearing a camouflage "USA" hat, Trump gazed solemnly at the devastation in Paradise.

Several burned-out buses and cars were nearby. Trees were burned, their branches bare and twisted. Homes were totally gone; some foundations remained, as did a chimney and, in front of one house, a Mickey Mouse lawn ornament. The fire was reported to have moved through the area at 80 mph.

"It's going to work out well, but right now we want to take of the people that are so badly hurt," Trump said visiting what remained of the Skyway Villa Mobile Home and RV Park. He noted "there are areas you can't even get to them yet" and the sheer number of people unaccounted for.

"I think people have to see this really to understand it," Trump said.

The president later toured an operation centers, met with response commanders and praised the work of firefighters, law enforcement and representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"We've never seen anything like this in California," he said. "It's total devastation."

Trump took a helicopter tour en route to Chico before he toured Paradise. A full cover of haze and the smell of smoke greeted the president upon his arrival at Beale Air Force Base near Sacramento.

"They're out there fighting and they're fighting like hell," Trump said of the first responders.

He pledged that Washington would do its part by coming to the Golden State's aid and urged the House's Republican leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, a Trump ally and frequent White House visitor, to "come to the office" to help secure the needed funding.

Trump long has struggled to convey empathy to victims of national disasters and tragedies. His first reaction to the fires came in a tweet last week that drew criticism as unnecessarily critical and tone-deaf given the devastation: "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests."

After the negative reaction to his response, Trump shifted gears, expressing words of encouragement to first responders and those of sympathy for hit victims.

Nature and humans share blame for the wildfires, but fire scientists are divided as to whether forest management played a major role. Nature provides the dangerous winds that have whipped the fires, the state has been in a drought and human-caused climate change over the long haul is killing and drying the shrubs and trees that provide the fuel.

When Trump was asked during an interview set to air on "Fox News Sunday" whether climate change played a role in the number of serious fires, he said "maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management."

Before departing Saturday, Trump outlined what he planned to discuss with California Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov-elect Gavin Newsom, both Democrats: "We will be talking about forest management. ... The one thing is that everybody now knows that this is what we have to be doing and there's no question about it. It should have been done many years ago, but I think everybody's on the right side."

In Northern California, Trump's skepticism about the impact of climate change on the wildfires was on display when he, Brown and Newsom spoke to reporters. Asked if he thought climate change played a role in the fires, Brown responded: "Yes. Yes. And we'll let science determine this over a longer period of time."

A reporter asked if climate change was discussed with the president, but Trump jumped in to say, "We didn't discuss it."

A reporter then said, "Well, you obviously disagree on this issue." Trump answered, in part: "Maybe not as different as people think. Is it happening? Things are changing. And I think most importantly we're doing things about. We're gonna make it better. We're going to make it a lot better. And it's gonna happen as quickly as it can possibly happen."

Brown and Newsom said they welcomed the president's visit, with the governor suggesting they set aside political differences since it "now is a time to pull together for the people of California."

Brown, a fierce advocate of addressing climate change, pointed to several causes and they need to deal with them.

"If you really look at the facts, from a really open point of view, there are a lot of elements to be considered," Brown said. "The president came, he saw and I'm looking forward over the next months and beyond to really understand this threat of fire, the whole matter of drought and all the rest of it. It's not one thing, it's a lot of things and I think that if we just open our minds and look at things we'll get more stuff done."

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