National Guard Set To Relieve California Fire Crews

FRESNO, Calif.– Weary crews battling wildfires across northern and central California are set to get help from the National Guard. It’s the first time the military has been called to ground-based firefighting duty since 1977.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered 200 guardsmen to report for fire training. The extra hands are expected to be on duty early next week, to boost the nearly 19,000 personnel now fighting the fires.

Evacuations in the area are continuing. In the Big Sur region, about 200 people along a 15-mile stretch of Highway 1 have been ordered to leave. In Southern California, a fire north of Santa Barbara has prompted the evacuation of about 40 homes. That fire has burned nearly 100 acres of heavy brush.

Schwarzenegger and FEMA chief David Paulison plan to visit Big Sur today for a briefing on firefighting efforts.