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Wed, Nov 05, 2003

Wildfires Contained, Guard Hercs Go Home

Late Arrival Still Helpful, Appreciated

Wetter, cooler weather has helped firefighting efforts in California so much that C-130 Hercules equipped with mobile airborne firefighting systems have been released, Pentagon officials said. The aircraft flew back to their bases in California, Colorado, Wyoming and North Carolina on Sunday.

By Early Monday...

Officials said that 10 of the 12 largest fires have been 80-percent contained. Local officials estimate that the Old fire in San Bernardino County and the Paradise fire in San Diego County are 65-percent contained. The progress is so good that the military Joint Task Force – Firefighting will stand down in the next day or two.

The firefighting effort continues, and officials now are requesting surveillance aircraft to ensure the fire does not reignite. State officials requested military Predator unmanned aerial vehicles to aid this surveillance effort.

Residents are starting to return to the stricken areas. Many are returning to find their homes and other structures burned to the ground. The wildfires were the most destructive in California history, said state officials.

The wildfires have caused as many as 20 deaths in California, officials said. President George W. Bush declared the counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Ventura federal disaster areas October 27.

Current news reports show fires have burned more than 3,600 structures. State officials said thousands were evacuated as the fires approached and that the fires have burned more than 800,000 acres.

[Thanks to Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service; photo by Senior Master Sgt. Dennis W. Goff --ed.]

FMI: www.af.mil

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