President Joe Biden touched down in New Mexico on Saturday amid anger and frustration from survivors of the wildfires while he tours the state to review efforts to battle the largest wildfire in U.S. history started by federal officials.
But the fires have spread out of control, destroying hundreds of homes spanning 1.300 square miles since the start of April, according to federal officials.
Biden examined damage to the blaze on Air Force One before reaching New Mexico on Saturday to meet with U.S. State Secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham and emergency officials in hopes of getting a sense of the effect of a fire triggered by the National Forest Service blaze.
“We need to be sure this doesn’t happen again,” Biden said on a visit to the Santa Fe emergency response center where the president had met with local, state and federal officials.
The president vowed that all costs for emergency actions, including clearing debris that would normally be divided between the federal and state governments, would be borne entirely by Washington.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham told Biden that “your administration has leaned in from the very beginning” on the need to keep holding the federal government accountable.
Biden told reporters in Los Angeles prior to departing for New Mexico that he supports the administration footing the bill for the damage caused by the fire, although he said that would require an act of Congress.