USA — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has asked President George W. Bush to send more firefighters to help build fire lines and train National Guard troops deployed to assist firefighting efforts.
“California is in the midst of battling unprecedented wildfires that have stretched our state’s firefighting resources to their limit and placed thousands of Californians in immediate danger,” Schwarzenegger said in the letter, according to Sacramento television station KCRA.
The governor asked that the federal government increase the “Maximum Efficiency Level” for the U.S. Forest Service to 100 percent, and requested that Bush “personally ensure” that federal incident commanders can make decisions to protect life and property without fiscal pressure from the Office of Management and Budget.
“To date, I have ordered hundreds of California National Guardsmen to the firefighting front lines and anticipate calling up more. However, California’s troops can only absorb so much of this responsibility while maintaining their ability to respond to the additional requirements of the existing fire emergency and other potential missions and emergencies,” the letter stated.
A wildfire in Butte County has forced the evacuation of as many as 10,000 residents.
The fire is one of about 40 sparked by lightning that have charred 49,000 acres — or more than 76 square miles — in the past two weeks.
Firefighters currently are making their stand along the Feather River on the banks opposite of the city of Paradise, which is at risk if the winds shift. The fire threatens nearly 4,000 homes in Paradise, where a separate wildfire destroyed 74 homes last month.
A state fire department spokesman says at least six firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion Wednesday — the result of hot, dry weather that’s expected to continue through the weekend.