Aid sought to battle wildfires

first_imgBy late Monday, the three fires had burned more than 58,900 acres; damaged or destroyed 46 homes, businesses and churches; and injured five people, including two firefighters. More than 15,000 people were evacuated in the Santa Clarita Valley. “This has the potential to be one of the largest fires we’ve experienced in years,” said Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Ron Haralson. “And this is some of the driest conditions we’ve experienced in our history with record-low rainfalls. “We have resources coming in from all over, but we’re stretched thin. If these fires continue to grow or we get other starts, that will further stretch the resources we have ordered and have in reserve now.” Based out of the Emergency Operations Center in Monterey Park, county officials are coordinating the massive deployment of firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, and public works, animal control and mental health workers. Sheriff’s personnel across the county were placed on 12-hour shifts and sent to help evacuate people and provide security in evacuated areas. About 213 deputies were deployed to the Malibu area and 161 near Agua Dulce. “Many have been going door to door evacuating people,” sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said. “We are also managing the traffic flow in and out of these areas.” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the city is providing personnel and equipment to control the blazes in Malibu, Agua Dulce and Canyon Country. “The city has activated its Emergency Operations Center and will closely monitor the fires around-the-clock to manage resources and prepare for any fires that may threaten the city,” Villaraigosa said. The county Fire Department set up command posts at the Malibu Civic Center and Agua Dulce Airport to coordinate strategies to contain the fires and deploy engine companies, strike teams, camp crews, airplanes and helicopters. “This is government at its best,” county Fire Department Chief P. Michael Freeman said. “It’s a cooperative effort from the state down to the local government.” Staff Writer Lisa Friedman contributed to this report. [email protected] (213) 974-8985160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The Federal Emergency Management Agency has given the state fire-management-assistance grants to cover the costs of equipment replacement and repair as well as mobilizing firefighters. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has deployed fire crews, engines, air tankers and helicopters. Sen. Barbara Boxer spoke on the Senate floor Monday evening, urging a federal state of emergency in California. “California can’t fight this battle alone,” Boxer said. “I know President Bush will act swiftly on this. There are certain areas where we have to work together, where there cannot be an inch of distance between us.” Calling in help from Nevada, Arizona and throughout the state, more than 2,600 firefighters in Los Angeles County sought to contain the Ranch, Buckweed and Canyon fires. Thousands of firefighters fanned out across Southern California on Monday, battling nearly 20 blazes that had burned more than 100,000 acres in seven counties and forced thousands of people to flee their homes. With state fire resources stretched thin, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked other states for help and directed 1,500 California National Guard troops to help firefighters. About 200 troops will come from the California-Mexico border and four National Guard helicopters will be used to help douse the blazes. Schwarzenegger said President George W. Bush, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other federal officials offered additional assistance. last_img read more