Governor Calls for Federal Help with Fires

July 11, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Governor Schwarzenegger has called for more federal help as weary firefighters in the state struggle to contain the worst of the wildfires. The governor's request to President Bush came as fire crews worked to save a piece of paradise.Nearly 4,000 homes in Paradise and Cancow remain empty as firefighters dig in on the rugged hills above them and on the banks of the Feather River. "If it comes across, it has the potential to come up the steep canyon in fingers and start burning through the community a little bit here," said Riverside City Fire Chief David Lesh.

At least 50-homes have already been lost in Butte County. For thousands of evacuees it's a waiting, and praying game. Still others plan to stay and fight alongside the professionals. "I don't want to leave the property. I want to protect what we've got," said resident Seth Roberts.

More than 320 fires are still burning statewide. To date, more than 580,000 acres have burned, that's about 80-square miles. 100 homes and dozens of outbuildings have been lost and at least 10,000 people have been evacuated.

California's weary firefighters, many of whom have been working double and triple shifts for weeks, need help. Even calling up the National Guard hasn't been enough. "We need federal fire fighters to train them because I don't want to pull firefighters off the front line," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This San Diego Hot Shot crew just got back from the Big Sur fires. They had two days rest, now they're headed out again. "After a while you get tired, your body starts breaking down and you're mentally tired, and you're like aaghh, but it's something we have to do," said Golden Eagle Hot Shot Daniel Donato.

But the worst of the fire season is just now approaching, and federal managers can't commit everything to California. By late Thursday, seven new fires had started in five other states and they need firefighters too.


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