President Trump on Saturday expressed his belief that the wildfires ravaging California can be blamed on "gross mismanagement of the forests." Neil Young, for one, isn't having it. Variety reports the musician lost his Malibu home in the fires, and on Sunday he offered a retort to Trump on his website in the form of a 300-word post (you'll need to register to read it in full). It reads in part: "California is vulnerable – not because of poor forest management as DT (our so-called president) would have us think. We are vulnerable because of climate change; the extreme weather events and our extended drought is part of it. ... We love California. We are not ill-prepared. We are up against something bigger than we have ever seen. It’s too big for some to see at all. Firefighters have never seen anything like this before in their lives."
The AP backs up Young's assertion by way of an interview with University of Utah fire scientist Philip Dennison. He says there are a number of contributing factors, but "forest management wasn't one of them." He elaborates on why: Some of the areas that have been hit saw fires in 2005 and 2008, so they aren't "fuel-choked closed-canopy forests." And in the case of Southern California, what has burned isn't forest but shrub land. So of the other contributing factors, which was the big one? The Santa Ana winds, says Dennison. "With wind speeds as high as they were, there was nothing firefighters could do to stop the advance." Even fire breaks—areas where vegetation has been cleared or intentionally so as not to offer the oncoming flames fuel—has been no match. One of the fires straddled eight lanes of freeway, a distance of roughly 140 feet, he says. (Read more California wildfires stories.)