Task Force Will Target Brush Fires

Times Staff Writer

As surrounding counties continued to battle massive wildfires Friday, Orange County fire and sheriff's officials announced that they were forming a task force to prevent similar blazes here.

"We will commit to taking extraordinary measures," Sheriff Michael S. Carona said in a written statement.

The task force between the Sheriff's Department and the Orange County Fire Authority will include 60 deputies, firefighters and investigators, and equipment from both departments such as helicopters, airplanes and all-terrain vehicles.

The task force will patrol the canyons during dry and windy weather and investigate arson threats. Members were briefed and dispatched from O'Neill Regional Park in Rancho Santa Margarita on Friday.

Although hundreds of thousands of acres have burned throughout Southern California and thousands of homes have been lost, Orange County has been spared.

Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Stephen Miller said that the departments have cooperated before, but the task force formalizes the cooperation. "It is just an additional step we are taking," he said, "so that what has happened all around us doesn't happen here."

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