During a visit to wildfires-hit California, the US president had said Finland routinely raked its forests to foil fires. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto responded, saying he was not sure where Trump got the idea.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto was left raking his memory to figure out where US President Donald Trump got the idea that raking is part of Finland's routine to avoid forest fires.
Trump on Saturday told reporters in wildfire-ravaged northern California that forest fires were not a problem in Finland because the people in the Nordic country "spend a lot of time on raking" leaves and "cleaning and doing things."
Niinisto told Finland's Ilta-Sanomat newspaper that he and Trump had discussed California wildfires during their brief meeting in Paris on November 11.
The Finnish president said he told Trump that "Finland is a country covered by forests, but we also have a good surveillance system and network" in case of wildfires.
However, raking wasn't brought up in the conversation, Niinisto said.
The Finnish president "reckons raking perhaps came to Trump's mind after seeing the firefighters raking the burned-down areas in California," the Ilta-Sanomat reported.
Forests cover over 70 percent of Finland's 338,000 square kilometers.
On Sunday, authorities in California continued their search for the 1,276 people listed as missing. Search teams combed through the charred wreckage of the state's deadliest-ever fire that has leveled the mountain town of Paradise.
The remains of 76 people have been recovered so far, 63 of whom have been tentatively identified pending DNA confirmation.
The rescue teams are running against time with rain forecast in the coming days. While the rain will help douse the flames, it could also cause floods and mudslides.
Trump's 'compliment' to Finland caused a stir on social media, where hashtags like #RakeAmericaGreat Again and #RakeNews were widely shared.
ap/sms (AP, dpa)