Biden investigates New Mexico wildfires aboard Air Force One as residents demand answers about blazes that started as controlled burns in April but spiraled out of control and burned 600,000 acres
- President Joe Biden investigated the New Mexico wildfires aboard Air Force One on Saturday before landing in Albuquerque
- He is briefed on the current threat by responders in Santa Fe
- Biden is also expected to meet privately with victims of natural disasters
- There are now more than 4,000 wildfire personnel on the ground across the state battling the blazes
- Reporters aboard Air Force One could see smoke billowing from multiple fires as well as charred bits of landscape
President Joe Biden investigated the New Mexico wildfires aboard Air Force One on Saturday before landing in Albuquerque for a briefing in Santa Fe on the current threat.
“There is an expression where I come from. God created man, then he created firefighters,’ Biden said. “They’re all crazy,” he added, drawing laughs.
He must also meet privately with victims of natural disasters.
Reporters aboard Air Force One could see smoke billowing from several fires as well as charred bits of landscape.
The president remarked that “Air Force One is so big we couldn’t get into it”, so the presidential plane flew over the perimeter.
A group of New Mexico residents sued the US Forest Service this week arguing that the federal government failed to release information about the controlled burns that turned into a fire at Hermits Peak.
More than 600,000 acres in New Mexico have burned, engulfing 1,200 homes.
Biden explained how the controlled burns “99.8% are going as planned,” but this one potentially didn’t.
“Today I am announcing that the federal government is covering 100% of the costs,” the president said.
President Joe Biden investigated the New Mexico wildfires before being briefed on the lingering threat in Santa Fe on Saturday. Reporters aboard Air Force One with the president were allowed to capture smoke billowing from several hills
Air Force One flew over several sites in New Mexico where wildfires were currently burning
A view through the window of Air Force One of the New Mexico wildfires. The president stopped in his state on his way back to Delaware from Los Angeles, where he has been hosting the Summit of the Americas since Wednesday
President Joe Biden (right) hugs Democratic New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (left) upon arriving at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico
The Hermits Peak fire, which is currently the largest in New Mexico, is now 66% contained, the White House said on Saturday, ahead of Biden’s meetings.
There are now more than 4,000 wildfire personnel on the ground in the state battling the blazes.
The president approved a disaster declaration in early May.
As Biden arrived, he hugged Democratic state Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and grabbed the hand of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who was masked after recovering from a recent bout of COVID. .
When the president left Air Force One in Albuquerque, it was a balmy 99 degrees.
Biden stopped over in New Mexico after spending three days in Los Angeles for the Summit of the Americas, the US-hosted gathering of leaders from North, Central and South America.
While there, Biden also attended two high-priced fundraisers in Brentwood and Beverly Hills, and sat down with late-night host Jimmy Kimmel.
President Joe Biden addressed reporters Saturday morning from the tarmac at LAX, encouraging March for Our Lives attendees to “keep marching.”
Saturday morning, after arriving at LAX on Marine One, Biden answered questions from reporters, including about the March for Our Lives, which was taking place in Washington, D.C.
“Keep walking – it’s important,” he said. “It has to become an election issue – the way people listen, senators, congressmen, is when people say it affects my vote.”
He also said he was “mildly optimistic” about the ongoing discussions in the Senate on gun reform.
The president also told reporters that he had not decided to take a trip to Saudi Arabia.
After leaving New Mexico on Saturday, he will return to Wilmington, Delaware, for the rest of the weekend.