A California family whose home was burned to the ground in the state’s raging wildfires has slammed vice presidential hopeful Kamala Harris for allegedly trespassing on their property to stage a photo-op.
Senator Harris and California Governor Gavin Newsom posed for pictures as they inspected damage caused by the fires in the town of Auberry, near Fresno.
The politicians first inspected Pine Ridge Elementary school during the 15 September trip, before going across the street to the destroyed home of the Patten family.
While standing where the house once was, Joe Biden’s running mate described the neighbourhood’s remaining chimneys as “tombstones”.
Spent time surveying a burn site with @GavinNewsom in an area that has been devastated by the recent wildfires in California. I’m incredibly grateful for the courage of our brave firefighters and those who have come near and far to help those fleeing the destruction. pic.twitter.com/EHSUPgkOsl
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 15, 2020
But the photo-op has upset the homeowners, who say they are frustrated the politicians ventured onto their property without approval when they themselves have not been allowed back to survey the destruction.
Now the son of the homeowners, Trampas Patten, has hit out at Sen Harris.
“For the friends of mine that don’t recognise the fireplace in the background, that is what is left of my parents house!” Mr Patten wrote on Facebook.
“What has me really frustrated right now is the fact that these two politicians used my parents’ loss for a photo opportunity to push their political agenda!
“Political party wouldn’t have made a difference in this moment.
“Decent human beings that have character and class, wouldn’t air someone else’s misfortune on national television!
“Think about this when you go to the polls in a few weeks to vote.
“Look at this picture closely, imagine it is what is left of your hard work, hopes, dreams, place of sanctuary.
“Do you want this kind of leadership, using you and your loss for political gain?!
“For the record, my parents haven’t even been let back in yet themselves, to sort through what is left of their lives, but these two felt the need to go traipsing around my parents property without permission.
“I guess those property taxes my parents pay allow politicians to do this! Private property doesn’t exist in California anymore!”
The home remains under an evacuation order and residents have not been allowed yet to return by officials.
Patten’s sister, Bailee Patten, told FOX26 that seeing the family’s destroyed home for the first time on social media was devastating.
“When we saw those photos, it was – there aren’t words, because it’s like, we haven’t even seen our house,” said Ms Patten.
“We haven’t seen our property. There is no house, we haven’t even seen our property.
“This isn’t just devastation, this is our lives. This is where we grew up, these are our memories. And to not have that, to feel so helpless and I guess that’s what we’ve all been thinking, is that we were so helpless.
“Because we weren’t there, we haven’t gotten to deal with our loss. Instead, we’re having to watch it play out on social media and news.”