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Ventura County News Roundup

Countywide : Bush Asked to Not Cut 29 Firefighters

December 25, 1991|KENNETH R. WEISS

Rep. Robert J. Lagomarsino (R-Ventura) is urging the Bush Administration to reconsider its proposal to cut 29 firefighters and a group of helicopters from the front-line defense against wildfires in Los Padres National Forest.

In a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Edward R. Madigan, Lagomarsino and two other Republican congressmen said they oppose the proposed cutbacks in the fiscal 1992 budget that target firefighters in the U. S. Forest Service.

"These cuts would expose area residents to an unacceptable high fire risk," Lagomarsino said in a statement. "After the Oakland blaze and the Painted Cave fire in Santa Barbara last year, the Forest Service should be increasing its firefighting capabilities, not cutting them."

Erwin Ward, acting supervisor of Los Padres National Forest, said the proposed 25% cutbacks in firefighting forces would reduce the capability to contain fires before they spread.

"It would mean that the backup resources would be 45 minutes to an hour away," Ward said. "If we are not successful in catching fires when they are small, they tend to get real big on us."

The Forest Service has a number of fire stations throughout Los Padres National Forest, which stretches from Ventura County to Monterey County.

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