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Schwarzenegger: State lost two heroes when firefighters died in Angeles National Forest

August 31, 2009 | 11:33 am

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was in Los Angeles this morning to announce a $75-million green-jobs training program, said California lost two heroes when a pair of firefighters died while battling a wildfire in the Angeles National Forest.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and their friends. Every Californian is grateful for their bravery and for their great service,’’ Schwarzenegger said, praising the scores of other firefighters still in the San Gabriel Mountains. “Of course, they are my great heroes."

With eight major fires burning across the state, Schwarzenegger said he had declared a state of emergency in four counties, including Los Angeles County. He urged residents to heed all evacuation orders, saying those who decide to stay in their homes are putting their lives at risk.

“Fires are burning from the north, the northern border of California, all the way south, and from the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Sierra Nevada," he said. "There are fires everywhere."

At the same event at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the city has four strike teams battling the fires, which spread across L.A.'s northern boundaries Sunday.

Fire Chief Millage Peaks has suspended the department’s cost-cutting program, which idled fire engines and ambulances citywide on a rotating basis and reduced the number of firefighters on duty by 87. The actions began this month as a result of city budget cuts.

Villaraigosa said every action is being taken to “ensure every resource is available to fight this fire and protect those at risk.’’

As a precaution, police officers evacuated 200 residents on Riverwood Drive near Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Alpine Village east of Big Tujunga Canyon Road, Villaraigosa said.

-- Phil Willon at Los Angeles City Hall