Governor and Mayor Laud Firefighters, Discuss Recovery in Station Fire Briefing
In a press conference held shortly after 8 this morning at the command center in Hansen Dam, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Villaraigosa spoke of the current data regarding the massive Station Fire, the heroism of the firefighters, and the assistance available to the victims.
As of this morning, the fire has consumed at least 140,00 acres, 62 structures, and is 22% contained. Over 4000 personnel are engaged in the operation to control and extinguish the blaze, and 488 engines, 14 helicopters, and 64 bulldozers are being employed. With evacuations lifted in many areas, including La Cañada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, and Altadena, the threat to homes seems to have decreased, although the fire could eventually pose a threat to Monrovia, Sierra Madre, and Duarte.
After helping serve breakfast to the firefighters present (to help "pump [them] up" for duty), Schwarzenegger thanked the thousands of firefighters for their incredibly hard work, and compared a civilian's everyday task of getting dressed in nearly-weightless clothing and going to work in an air conditioned space to the arduous task the firefighters face daily of putting on their clothes, 25-30 pounds of gear, climbing the hills, dragging hoses, and facing flames.
He also emphasized the ways the state of California is prepared in "helping victims rebuild their lives," such as waiving fees for the reissue of documents like driver's licenses and birth certificates, as well as the willingness of the Franchise Tax Board to assist with extensions and fees for victim's taxes. A State of Emergency has been declared in many affected counties, including Los Angeles, to "cut through the red tape and free up additional resources."
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa followed the Governor at the podium this morning, and expressed his condolences for the two LA County Firefighters who were killed in the line of duty, and noted that he shares the sentiment with many that he "can't help but feel a pride in [his] heart" for the courage of the firefighters.
He emphasized--in response to inquiries to him regarding the role of the City of Los Angeles in the fire--that it was actually a County incident taking place in the "outlying areas of the region," but that "City firefighters have been involved as part of mutual aid, and to help protect the borders of the City of LA."
Having taken a helicopter tour of the area with fire officials, Villaraigosa added that "we're very very fortunate" because had this been the fall with the Santa Ana winds the fire could have been "much larger and more serious." He thanked "God and nature" for this salvation, but emphasized that the City of L.A. is still very engaged in the Station Fire, noting that many mandatory evacuations remain in effect in parts of Tujunga within the City limits.