By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The death toll from the California wildfires now tops 80, and hundreds more are still missing.

President Donald Trump blames state officials for not doing enough to prevent the fires. But is that true? And what is the plan to protect the woods in Minnesota?

“I was with the president of Finland and he said, ‘We have a much different, we’re a forest nation.’ He called it a ‘forest nation,’ and they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem,” Trump said.

Actually, Finland does not rake the forest — and Finns made sure President Trump knew it on social media.

Finland is 70-percent forest, and home to some of the world’s largest paper companies. The country also has a vast forest road network, an early warning system and aerial surveillance.

California’s terrain is much different, with flammable brush driven by Santa Ana winds.

trump visits california wildfire zone Reality Check: Rake America Great Again?

(credit: CBS)

Already, the California wildfires are the deadliest since 1918, when 453 people died in northern Minnesota’s Cloquet Fire.

Over 100 years, Minnesota developed a far-reaching plan helping protect 16 million acres of aspen, hardwood, spruce and pine. The plan includes:

  • Thinning and harvest
  • Insect and disease control
  • Wildfire stations
  • Evacuation
  • But, the biggest difference between Finland, Minnesota and California? Experts say it is climate change.

    In public comments and on Twitter, President Trump threatens to withhold federal aid from California if it doesn’t change its forest management. But that is highly misleading.

    His own federal government controls 60 percent of California’s forests. And science says it is the deadly heat, high winds and drought.

    There is no official cause for the northern California wildfire, but investigators are looking into whether a broken power line may have sparked it.