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Groundings Won´t Hamper Fire Efforts

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California firefighters say their efforts won´t likely be hampered by a federal grounding of airtankers after a U.S. Forest Service tanker crashed while fighting a Colorado wildfire Thursday. The grounding does not apply to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention, which said it will continue to have aircraft within 20-minute striking distance of anywhere in the state.

The department has 23 airtankers operating – none similar to the four-engine PB-4-Y plane that crashed northwest of Denver, killing both crew members. A spokesman says the Forest Service will rely on 23 helicopters and has added extra smokejumpers at its Redding base until the precautionary grounding ends.