Gov. puts state firefighters on alert


Governor Schwarzenegger is putting the state's firefighting services on alert, to head off a potential disaster.

He's also getting tough on homeowners who don't clear away wildfire dangers from their homes.

With fire season here, Governor Schwarzenegger had his own home in Brentwood examined by fire inspectors, and it failed miserably.

Their message?

"This is a fire hazard all around your house. You're living in the middle of it. Get rid of this tall grass. Get rid of the shrubs. Get rid of those trees because you're going to be in trouble," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) California.

Hoping Californians will take his cue, the Governor signed an executive order that cracks down on people who don't clear the hazards around their home -- no more warnings.

"We're going to start citing property owners who don't follow the 100 foot defensible space law," said Schwarzenegger.

The fine is up to $500. The executive order also means the state's firefighting air fleet will be staged closer to potential hotspots.

Trucks will be staffed with four firefighters instead of three and that big DC-10 that can drop 12,000 gallons of water on each trip is immediately available.

"I know that sometimes people think we're always saying this could be the worst fire season. We are looking at another dry year, drier than normal," said California Fire Marshal Kate Dargan.

CAL FIRE also says it has addressed the shortage of fire-spotters.

State law requires at least one on-board an aircraft during fires, leaving some grounded while the fires raged on last year.

This year, 35 are ready to go with more on the way.

"We'll have folks in training all summer. So as we have emergency incidents, they'll be part of that as trainees," said CAL FIRE Deputy Director Chief Ken Pimlott.

With so much talk about the state's budget mess and the potential for another dangerous year, the governor's executive order authorizes CAL FIRE is spend whatever it takes to put out all the blazes.

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