Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Forest Service can spare only one Ky. firefighter to help California



The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - With Ken-tucky's forest fire season in progress, only one firefighter from the U.S. Forest Service can be spared to aid others battling blazes in California.

Timber, Wildlife and Fire Staff Officer Rex Mann, of Mount Sterling, was to depart Tuesday night for California, where he will serve as an area commander. In Kentucky, Mann is assigned to the Daniel Boone National Forest, according to the U.S. Forest Service in Winchester.

However, the Kentucky Division of Forestry says it can't spare any firefighters.

"We are actually short on resources this year because of the budget," said Gwen Holt, a spokeswoman for state forestry. "They haven't requested any help and we can't afford to send them at this point."

Kentucky's fire season began Oct. 1 and runs through Dec. 15. There were 28 fires Saturday and warming temperatures were expected to make the coming weekend a difficult one for those who fight fires on private lands, Holt said.

Since Jan. 1, there have been 744 fires that have scorched 15,660 acres, Holt said. The largest fire this season was a 1,000-acre blaze Friday and Saturday at the Big South Fork National Recreation area in Tennessee near the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

"That fire was started by a snag falling over a power line," said Kathleen Kennedy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service.

More than 10,000 firefighters are currently battling some of the most deadly wildfires in California history.

At least 17 deaths were blamed on the fires, 15 in southern California and two in Mexico, as separate blazes scattered along an arc from the suburbs northwest of Los Angeles to Ensenada, Mexico. More than 1,500 homes have been destroyed.




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Forest Service can spare only one Ky. firefighter