From the ashes of a mobile home and RV park, US President Donald Trump said he had to come to the heart of California’s killer wildfire to fully grasp the scale of the desolation wrought on the landscape.
“We’re going to have to work quickly … hopefully this is going to be the last of these because this was a really, really bad one,” the president said on Saturday.
He pledged improved forest management practices would diminish future risks.
At least 71 people have died across northern California and authorities are trying to locate more than 1,000 people, though not all are believed missing.
More than 5,500 fire personnel were battling the blaze that covered 228 square miles (590 square kilometres) and was about 50% contained, officials said.
“It’s going to work out well but right now we want to take care of the people that are so badly hurt,” Mr Trump said from what remained of the Skyway Villa Mobile Home and RV Park.
“I think people have to see this really to understand it,” Mr Trump said.
Several burned-out cars were nearby. Trees were burned, their leaves gone. Homes were totally gone, some foundations and twisted steel remained, as did a chimney.
The fire was reported to have moved through the area at 80mph.
“We’ve never seen anything like this in California,” Mr Trump said.
The president took a helicopter tour en route to Chico before he toured Paradise.
A full cover of haze and the smell of smoke greeted the president upon his arrival at Beale Air Force Base near Sacramento, where he was met by Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, both Democrats.
He was expected to travel several hundred miles south to visit with victims of a recent country music bar shooting.
A gunman killed a dozen people at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, north of Los Angeles, on November 7 before taking his own life.
Mr Brown and Mr Newsom said on Friday they welcomed the president’s visit and “now is a time to pull together for the people of California.”