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California Firefighting Aircraft Ready To Battle Wildfires Weeks Ahead Of Normal

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A DC-10 fire tanker, capable of carrying up to 12,000 gallons of fire retardant, makes a drop along the lines of the Crown Fire northeast of Los Angeles on Friday, July 30, 2010. (CBS)

A DC-10 fire tanker, capable of carrying up to 12,000 gallons of fire retardant, makes a drop along the lines of the Crown Fire northeast of Los Angeles on Friday, July 30, 2010. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The early arrival of dangerous fire conditions has prompted state emergency responders to spring into action earlier than usual.

For Cal Fire, that means activating its fleet of more than 50 air tankers in the month of May – weeks earlier than it normally does.

“Everything is really timed very precisely to make sure that equipment is ready and safe to go for this summer,” explained Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. “Knowing that it was going to be an early year though, we really had to ramp up our maintenance to make sure that our aircraft were available earlier to us this year.”

The California Emergency Management Agency has also activated its state operations center.

“June is considered early for fire season,” said Agency spokeswoman Tina Walker. “You know, there was a time when fire season, if you want to define it, didn’t really begin until moving closer to September, through August. So, yes, it seems to be getting earlier.”

Federal help was on the way was well; the Federal Emergency Management Agency this week approved a request by Gov. Jerry Brown to cover reimbursable expenses for the response to recent wildfire activity in Riverside County.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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