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Schwarzenegger hails firefighters as heroes

September 2, 2009 |  9:46 am

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger served hot cereal to firefighters early this morning and told each that he was thankful for their work.

"I hope it really makes you strong," he said to one fireman.

"Thank you for your work," he told another.

He thanked all of them at a news conference, calling them heroes who put on hot and heavy suits each morning to "go out and climb steep terrain."

"This is why I say they're true heroes," he said, "that is why I'm proud of them."

He said authorities were figuring out how best to help those who lost their homes. Despite budget cuts, he said, there were plenty of funds available to fight the blaze.

"We always have the money available to fight the fires because public safety is the No. 1 priority," he said.

The governor was joined by several officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca.

"We're very, very fortunate," Villaraigosa said. "Had this been the fall with the Santa Ana winds, the fire could have been much larger."

Baca said about 4,300 homes in Los Angeles County, excluding in the city of Los Angeles, had been evacuated, but everyone was being allowed return except for residents of fewer than 50 homes along Soledad Canyon Road, between Highway 14 and Bootlegger Canyon Road. 

Schwarzenegger encouraged those interested in helping fire victims to visit CaliforniaVolunteers.org for volunteer and donation ideas.

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz at Hansen Dam