Every burned town is tragic. But Newsom needs to lead with science, not sentimentality, when he talks about the effects of California’s devastating 2018 fires.
Newsom spoke Monday to hundreds of people displaced by the fires, and hundreds more watching livestreams of the disaster on YouTube, a live-streaming website.
As he walked behind the podium, the former mayor of San Francisco was joined by a couple hundred fellow citizens in San Diego for a rally in honor of the 1,935 people who died in the fires. Newsom had told the crowd in San Francisco that he saw the flames from his office window in a neighboring building, and had then been evacuated as the conflagration approached.
“San Francisco was the first to be evacuated due to the threat of fire,” Newsom said. “I told my wife, who’s from there — I said, ‘This is beautiful: There’s smoke coming into my window. There’s fire coming into my window.’”
It was an emotional moment: A man whose career had been based on making the world safe for democracy said he was worried as he stood in line waiting to get on a bus to bring his family to a safe place. The former mayor was one of many who paused and recalled the feeling of that moment with other officials.
Newsom thanked his staff, people from the community, volunteers and the firefighters who saved lives in San Francisco.
“I want to thank the brave first responders who fought the fires that day,” said Newsom. “They are heroes and will always be heroes.”
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, the nation’s longest serving elected leader, was asked in a question and answer session at the event if he thought there was any way to have prevented the fire.
“I didn’t see the fire coming,” Lee said. “All I saw were flames.”
Newsom is expected to have a very public fight with local officials to improve and strengthen emergency response. San Francisco’s mayor was also asked about the fire, and his response was more reserved.
“I will tell you it’s a tough spot we’re in