Two senior members of the Trump administration are surveying damage from large wildfires in California that have killed at least eight people.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue toured neighborhoods devastated by the fires as cooler temperatures Monday allowed firefighters the chance to make gains against a string of fires burning across the state.
Zinke told local KRCR-TV that officials must remove dead and dying trees to maintain healthy forests and to prevent the rapid spread of wildfires.
The fires have destroyed thousands of homes, forced tens of thousands of people to flee their dwellings and caused the closure of state parks, including Yosemite National Park.
Officials said Monday that firefighters have the deadly Carr Fire 61 percent contained. That fire, which has killed eight people, has burned through 82,000 hectares about 160 kilometers (99 miles) north of San Francisco.
Also in Northern California, firefighters are battling the Mendocino Complex Fire, the state’s largest-ever wildfire, which now covers 139,000 hectares. Officials said that fire is now 68 percent contained and has so far burned an area the size of Los Angeles. Officials said it may be September before they are able to fully contain it.
In Southern California, the Holy Fire has forced thousands of people to evacuate from Orange and Riverside counties and has destroyed thousands of hectares of national forest land.
Overall, a dozen fires are burning in California, making this year’s fire season one of the worst the state has seen.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) said some 14,000 firefighters, including inmates and firefighters from overseas, are battling the fires across the state.
Officials said Yosemite National Park is scheduled to reopen Tuesday after being largely closed for over two weeks due to smoke from fires in the region.