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Federal and state wildland fire experts jointly respond to Southern California Wildfires

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner today announced that additional Incident Management Teams are en route to Southern California to assist with containing the rapidly spreading wildfires. These teams are comprised of specialists from eight state and federal agencies who routinely work together in responding to disaster and wildfire emergencies.

"California's tremendous firefighters are not alone in fighting these fires," said Kempthorne. "The federal government, through the National Interagency Fire Center, has responded to all requests for assistance made by the State of California. Last night, I assured Governor Schwarzenegger, Senator Feinstein and other California leaders that the federal family stands ready to offer additional assistance if requested."

"I spoke with Governor Schwarzenegger yesterday and I am pleased that we can help California by lending our firefighters, equipment and aircraft which are the backbone for combating devastating wildfires," said Conner. "Our thoughts are with all of those affected by this disaster and we will continue to dedicate all available resources to contain these fires."

More than 2,000 members of the interagency wildland firefighting community mobilized through the National Interagency Coordination Center are engaged in a wide range of wildfire response efforts to several fires in Southern California. Requests for assistance through the National Interagency Fire Center began on Oct. 21 and firefighters and incident management teams were mobilized from across the country. These professionals come from across the spectrum of federal, state and local wildland fire organizations.

Since the Southern California wildfires started burning, the following resources have been deployed:

1) one area command team (5 persons per team) to provide communication and coordination assistance for several fires,

2) four type one incident management teams (20 persons per team) to establish an effective firefighting organization and develop the tactics and strategies for containment,

3) 31 crews which include 25 elite firefighter hot shot crews specially trained to handle difficult and extreme incidents,

4) 90 fire engines with support from 22 strike teams (110 persons total for strike teams) to work directly on fire lines,

5) 11 water tenders which support the fire and aviation activities,

6) 11 heavy air tankers to support the ground firefighters in attacking sides of the fire,

7) 14 medium and heavy helicopters to assist the ground firefighters with strategic pinpoint drops on identified areas of the fire, and

8) six bulldozers to establish the line to halt further spread of the fire.

Because of the rapidly changing nature of these fires, it is likely that more teams and equipment will be deployed today.

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