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Bush tours areas of NorCal wildfires

July 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
President Bush toured the fire-ravaged area of Northern California Thursday with Gov. Schwarzenegger and Sen. Dianne Feinstein. In Redding, the president was briefed on the fires with the elite smokejumpers. More than 2,000 fires were started because of a huge lightning storm on Jun. 21. President Bush saw firsthand in an aerial tour how parts of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest were destroyed by some of those fires.

Nearly 900,000 acres have burned across California since that storm. A slew of federal agencies have been participating in daily one-hour video conferences with California officials to identify how Washington can help. A unified command system that FEMA put in place after an ineffective federal response to Hurricane Katrina could help provide timely aid to California.

"I'd like to let the people out here know we're paying attention in Washington, D.C. We care about you, and we'll respond as fast as we possibly can," Bush said.

"Without the federal government, we wouldn't be able to do it," Schwarzenegger said. "We have 80 percent of the U.S. resources for firefighting here in California."

Bush also gave three Eagle Scouts the President's Volunteer Service Award. One of them was for Alex Braden from Covina. He is one of 800 Boy Scouts doing restoration work on the Pacific Crest Trail in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

 

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