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Gov. Schwarzenegger Returns to California Amidst Fiery Landscape

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At around 10:40 a.m. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger held a press conference at Hansen Dam regarding the Station Fire, and other fires currently affecting the state. Just home to California following yesterday's funeral services for his wife's uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, Schwarzenegger spoke immediately of his wish to continue to work to ensure the safety of lives, property, and memories.

The Governor first issued thank yous to the firefighters working on the Station Fire, lauding them as the "toughest, most experienced, best equipped and best trained in the world." He noted that the firefighting efforts have been all very well coordinated among the local, state and federal fire companies, and that "everyone is working together" along with each other and the law enforcement personnel who have been working tirelessly.

Schwarzenegger then urged everyone living near any of the fires, to "please listen and follow evacuation orders from officials," and mentioned yesterday's 3 burn victims in Big Tujunga Canyon as example of the perils of not heeding orders from officials in the case of a fire such as this.

Some statistics noted were that the Station Fire has grown to 35,000+ acres; only 5% containment; there are 12,500 structures threatened; 6,600 homes covered in mandatory evac; 4 shelters; 1 injured firefighter; 2,200 personnel fighting fire; 124 engines; 12 helicopters; and 20 bulldozers. Further, there are currently 8 "huge" fires blazing statewide, and there had been 89 smaller fires that were extinguished yesterday, which is why all of the state's equipment cannot be sent to the Station Fire because they are needed elsewhere in California.

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Before passing the podium to Congressmen David Dreier and Adam Schiff, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, and Supervisor Mike Antonovich. Gov. Schwarzenegger remarked that the weather is helpful but also problematic. There is no wind, which means the fire is not being moved as swiftly by air as it could be, but this makes the aerial fight more challenging because of the dense collected smoke. He also noted that the hillsides where the fire is raging are covered in very thick brush (10-20 feet tall). There has been no fire in 60 years so there's a lot of brush on this very challenging terrain, and while extinguishing the fire will be a great triumph, the aftermath of possibly mudslides means the areas will continue to be on alert for dangerous situations. Although fires are, by nature, unpredictable, Schwarzenegger added that he's been promised by fire officials that no structures will be lost.

Dreir, Schiff, Portantino, and Antonovich also issued thanks to the personnel working in the area, assured their constituents their devotion to their safety, and echoed the message of obeying orders to evacuate.