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Davis Adds Forces for Fire Season

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Gov. Gray Davis took steps Tuesday to beef up California’s firefighting ranks and equipment as the state prepares to face one of the most dangerous fire seasons in years.

As summer’s temperatures rise, so do concerns that the combination of unusually low winter rainfall and dry brush have primed the state for fires like those in Colorado and Arizona.

In an executive order, Davis increased California Department of Forestry engine teams from three to four firefighters per unit and added 10 refurbished firetrucks to serve Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern counties.

“I am taking this proactive step during this extraordinary fire season to ensure that the people and resources of the state have the best protection possible,” Davis said.

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The order also added four Forestry Department Conservation Camp Fire crews in Southern California, provided a leased helicopter for San Diego County and activated 10 more fire lookout towers in the northern part of the state. Davis said the increases will cost $6 million to $10 million, depending on the severity of the fire season.

A similar order last summer cost the state $9.7 million.

Davis, who is running for reelection against Republican Bill Simon Jr., signed the order at the Office of Emergency Services.


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