Finnish president says he briefed Trump on forest monitoring

An army of Finns posted photographs showing how they spent their weekends, rake in hand, working to prevent forest fires, and the liberal New York Daily News headlined its front page "Make America rake again", in a play on Trump's election slogan.

Niinisto told Finland's Ilta-Sanomat newspaper that he and Trump had discussed California wildfires during their brief meeting in Paris on November 11.

But President Sauli Niinisto told a Finnish daily he could not remember talking about raking when the two met.

Nodding toward the remnants of Paradise, Trump promised that state and federal partners would "get this cleaned up" and "take care of the floors of the forest".

But asked if he had made that case to Trump, he said: "I certainly raised it but I didn't feel that that was where we needed to go", then added that science would be the guide for analysing the fires "and the president in no way negated that".

Finland is covered in snow for much of the year and a quarter of the country is in the Arctic Circle.

The Nordic country with a population of 5.5 million is home to some of the world's biggest paper and pulp companies.

Brian Rice, president of California Professional Firefighters, described his comments as "ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines".

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"The fire was right over there and they were raking trees, little trees like this, nut trees, little bushes that you could see were totally dry, weeds".

Critics were quick to point out that Finland and California have very different climates.

"And they're raking them and they were on fire and that should have been all raked out and you wouldn't have had the fires".

But an expert said while Mr Trump may be right to talk about forest management, raking is not feasible.

Aside from the current Camp Fire, three separate fires in 2017 also rank among the top-20 most deadly in the state's history.

Jerry Brown, in the interview aired on Sunday, said: "Changing climate and the increasing drought and the lower humidity and water vapor" were important factors.

They also have no idea how the small population could rake vast swathes of forest.


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