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Monday, October 29, 2007

Fingerpointing Greets Review of California Fire Efforts

Jim McKenna

California state and U.S. officials are pointing fingers at each other for the use—or lack thereof—of helicopters to fight wildfires that have ravaged Southern California. Three California Republican congressmen faulted a California policy requiring an approved manager on military helicopters aiding firefighting efforts, saying it kept eight U.S. Marine Corps helicopters grounded. The aviation chief California's Forestry and Fire Protection Dept., Michael Padilla, told Fox News the state had no proof Marine pilots had the training needed to fly safely in the crowded and hectic skies over a large firefighting operation. By contrast, he said, Navy helicopters, whose crews have trained with state officials, were available throughout last week's operations. State officials are reviewing the response to the fires,  23 of which killed 16 people, destroyed almost 2,000 homes, and scorched 500,000 acres. For related news
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