U.S. Forest Service sends California fire crews to Colorado, but stretches coverage at Lake Tahoe thin

12:36 AM, Jun 28, 2012   |    comments
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Colorado Springs fire

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - With wildfire still raging in Colorado, California crews and equipment were dispatched to assist in the battle.

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The U.S. Forest Service in California said it has sent one water tender, five engines, a 20 person hand crew and 15 support staff to the area near Colorado Springs.

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The crews and equipment come from the El Dorado National forest and Lake Tahoe areas.

That's just one more reason State Senator Ted Gaines, (R) Rocklin, is concerned about the safety of the Tahoe Basin.

"There's still thousands of acres around the Tahoe basin that have not been cleared. And, we've had high winds and it's been a dry year," Gaines said.

He noted that a blue ribbon study after the devastating Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe made 90 recommendations to improve fire safety in the basin, but that only 60 have been implemented so far.

"Due to budget cutbacks, Cal Fire does not have a 24 hour presence in the basin. I think that is a mistake," Gaines said.

Gaines added that the only two engines Cal Fire has had at Lake Tahoe have been removed due to budget cuts at the state level.

Cal Fire has faced $80 million in cuts over the last two years.

Gaines worries the loss of the engines and the fact that so many federal firefighters are working fires out of state means response times could be longer.

"The response time is critical," Gaines said. "If you can't get at it quickly, then it spreads and it turns into a massive fire," said Gaines, who wants the legislature and governor to restore Cal Fire's funds.


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