July 1, 2008

Nat’L Guard Mobilized for Calif. Wildfires

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Tuesday called out the California National Guard to help battle a stubborn swarm of wildfires burning in the state.

Schwarzenegger's office said in a written statement that about 200 troops from around the state would join the nearly 19,000 firefighters struggling to contain around 945 fires burning in the central and northern California.

The troops will act as hand crews, handle communications and transportation, and operate eight additional bulldozers.

Firefighters said a change in the weather Tuesday brought a wet fog to the coast, which helped in their battle to contain the fires.

The biggest concern in the northern California fires, which have burned 423,000 acres in recent weeks, is the area in and around scenic Big Sur, the state's famous New Age community, whose rugged, 70-mile coastline boasts some of California's most spectacular homes, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Cal Fire said the two-blaze Basin Complex fire and the nearby Indians fire in the rugged Big Sur area had burned a combined 129,000 acres and 16 homes. The Indians fire was nearly contained, however, the Basin Complex was only 3 percent contained and posed a threat to more than 1,200 mostly-rural homes.