With fire crews slowly getting a handle on the 200,000-plus acre Creek Fire, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims met with President Donald Trump and Governor Gavin Newsom to discuss wildfire response on Monday.
Mims spoke with the two leaders and other state and federal officials at a roundtable discussion at McClellan Park — a former air force base turned office park and civilian airfield near Sacramento.
“This Creek Fire is the fire that we’ve been dreading for many years. We knew we were going to have something bad happen as a result of not only the drought, but the forest management practices, and now it’s happened. I believe now that people maybe have a different idea about how we should be treating our forests,” Mims said.
Mims spoke with the media after the event.
“This Creek Fire is the fire that we’ve been dreading for many years.” — Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims
Although Trump and Newsom have butted heads over why the Creek Fire and other California wildfires have been so devastating, Mims sensed no tension in the room.
She agreed with Trump that improved forest management is needed, while also calling for more funding for the forest service.
Overall, she was glad that the heads of the state and country were focusing on the wildfire issue.
“It really doesn’t matter how the fire started. Where do we go from here? That’s what I think they are focusing on, which I’m very glad to hear,” Mims said. “(Trump and Newsom) want the same things. The reason why and the political views may be different, but I see something different here … They seemed dedicated to working together to really help out our communities here in California.”
Also among the 12 attendees of the roundtable included California congressmen Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), Tom McClintock (R-Roseville) and Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency.
Mims used the opportunity to make a request in writing for support for the county. That included help from FEMA. The Trump administration agreed to place a FEMA representative in the county’s emergency operation center — a vital addition, according to Mims.
The sheriff also sought help for ranchers and farmers who lost grazing land, and those who lost homes and businesses.
National Guard Honored
Mims also witnessed a ceremony where Trump presented Distinguished Flying Cross awards to seven members of the California National Guard.
They helped rescue 242 people stranded at Mammoth Pool reservoir on Sept. 5 and 6.
“To each of you: Your unyielding determination lifts our nation. You’re what makes our nation great. And we thank you very much. Thank you very much. Incredible job,” Trump said during the ceremony.
Mims was impressed as well.
“They were told to come back (to the base). It was too dangerous to fly, but they went in anyway,” Mims said. “I was really glad to be there to see our local National Guard get that recognition from the president.”
Mims said that up to 100 sheriff’s deputies are monitoring the evacuation areas. There have been no reported burglaries thus far, she said.
“We know there are people out there that are acting out — that are threatening — and we know who they are. We’re keeping an eye on them,” Mims said.
COVID Testing and Mask Wearing
Mims said every participant at Monday’s meeting took a rapid COVID-19 test in order to attend. Social distancing with the president was adhered to — no handshakes or gift exchanges, she said.
While other participants wore masks, Mims did not.
“We were told that once we were in the roundtable that it was okay to make sure the president could hear what we were saying clearly. But most of the time, we were wearing masks within the hangar,” Mims explained.
During the roundtable, Newsom erroneously called Mims, “Fresno County mayor.”
She laughed it off.
“I‘m glad that that somebody corrected that because I didn’t want to be the one to correct both the governor and the president of the United States,” Mims said.