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American Forces Press Service

Defense Department Works to Battle Remaining California Fires

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2007 – Defense Department personnel continue to help state authorities battle five wildfires still burning in California, Pentagon officials said today.

According to U.S. Northern Command officials, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard C-130s flew 10 sorties yesterday dropping fire retardant. They will continue the mission today. The aircraft have flown 74 sorties since arriving in southern California.

The Global Hawk, the Air Force’s state-of-the-art unmanned aerial vehicle, flew missions to spot fires, as did an Air Force U-2 reconnaissance plane and a Navy P-3C Orion.

On the ground, more than 2,700 California Guardsmen are working in a variety of roles from firefighting to security and communications assistance.

In addition, the Army Corps of Engineers is helping to coordinate public works and engineering support for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, NORTHCOM officials said. The Corps is addressing four emergency support missions under FEMA: temporary power, temporary housing, planning, and debris removal and disposal.

The wildfires destroyed 2,772 structures and damaged another 437. At their height, the fires forced more than 500,000 people from their homes from an area north of Los Angeles to the Mexican border. California officials said the fires killed seven people and hurt 117. California fire control officials said they expect the fires to be out by Nov. 2.

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