National Guard Join CA Firefighting Efforts

July 7, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
California National Guard troops have finished their fire training and they'll head out to fight wildfires on Monday.Governor Schwarzenegger ordered more than 200 of them to take Cal-Fire's four-day basic training course for new recruits. Their timing couldn't be better because the weather is probably taking a turn for the worse.

Firefighters gained ground on the most dangerous fires today, getting up to 30% percent containment on the Gap Fire in southern California.

They're also up to 11% percent containment on the Basin Complex Fire in the Big Sur area.

Sunday firefighters were beating back small fronts of flame as they approached a road at the top of the mountains. If this got past them, they could have a renewed crisis on their hands. "Were trying to take the fire and blacken it to the pavement here and if we can do that successfully we have a good secure line," said Rick Trembath, Fire Safety Officer.

With bulldozers cutting breaks and hand crews deep in the ravines clearing brush, firefighters have this nearly 30% percent contained. But up along the Central Coast in Big Sur, that fire is only at 11% on Sunday, and fire commanders said the hills could burn until the end of this month.

The Governor's declaration that fire season is now year round is backed up by a study released last month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting that, among other results of global warming, there will be an increase in heat waves.

One of the phenomena is called "heat islands" created by cities. All that concrete, pavement; even watered lawns trap heat. Researchers have found that the average annual temperature in downtown Los Angeles has increased five degrees since 1920. "California is getting drier and California is getting warmer and there are more people there, and big urban heat islands have increased but the basic reason is that California's getting drier and warmer," said Climate Central Executive Director Berrien Moore.

It's been a little bit cooler here the last couple of days but the prediction is that Monday, maybe Tuesday we're going to get more hot weather and the fire weather forecasters here were describing it as potentially unstable by Wednesday or Thursday.


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