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October 28, 2007
Relief for Firefighters in California
Scattered showers and diminishing winds are helping the firefighters in California get control of most of the 20 wildfires still burning:
The blistering Santa Ana winds that whipped fires over more than a half-million acres earlier in the week were replaced by light breezes and even some rain on Saturday but another change in direction was expected to bring drier weather to Orange and San Diego counties. Controversy has erupted over the non-use of state owned aircraft that some experts believe could have been used earlier to help get control of the blazes:
"We're still cautiously optimistic" of making progress, said Chris Caswell with the Orange County Fire Authority. The fires have torched 1,790 homes but more than a dozen had been surrounded and nine others were 40 to 97 percent contained.
Addressing controversy over state rules that caused delay in getting military aircraft into use against the fires, Schwarzenegger said it sometimes takes disaster "to really wake everyone up." There has been little grumbling about the response from FEMA so far - a huge change from 2005 when the agency's response to Hurricane Katrina came under intense scrutiny.
"There are things that we could improve on and I think this is what we are going to do because a disaster like this ... in the end is a good vehicle, a motivator for everyone to come together," he said.