Biden Tours Western Fire Center And Tells Firefighters, ‘You Saved Lake Tahoe’

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Western wildfires have given Boise, Idaho, one of its smokiest summers on record. President Biden visited the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise on Monday.

Kirk Siegler/NPR


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Kirk Siegler/NPR


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«The reality is we have a global warming problem, a serious global warming problem, and it’s consequential, and what’s going to happen is things are not going to go back,» Biden said during the briefing.

The first president to officially visit the federal fire center, Biden also met briefly with first responders and an elite hot shot crew, where he reiterated calls to boost firefighter pay. The administration did recently implement bonuses for federal wildland firefighters but Biden said many still make only $15.00 an hour and put their lives on the line.

«You saved Lake Tahoe,» Biden said, referring to the massive Caldor Fire still burning out of control in California and Nevada.

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Dense, hazardous smoke from western fires has choked towns like South Lake Tahoe for weeks.

Kirk Siegler/NPR


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Hazardous smoke has complicated firefighting efforts on the Caldor Fire in Northern California.

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Hazardous smoke has complicated firefighting efforts on the Caldor Fire in Northern California.

Kirk Siegler/NPR

Much of the Northwest has also been choked with dense, hazardous smoke for weeks this summer, leading to more calls for an overhaul of U.S. firefighting policy. On the ground in the West, there is also pressure on the U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies to be more aggressive with restoration projects in overgrown forests where natural wildfires have been suppressed for a century.

«Since the early 1900s the policy has been to fight fires, the seasons are getting longer, it’s putting more demands on those people who are required to fight the fires,» said Boise resident Marshall Brezonick, on a recent smoke shrouded hike on a popular trail in the foothills outside the city. «It’s getting worse with climate change.»

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