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As Heat Cranks, Feinstein Asks Bush Admin. For Two Fire Planes

California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is asking the Bush Administration for help in delivering two promised firefighting air planes. The planes are designed to help extinguish brush fires like those that hit San Diego last year. Todd Zwillich has this report.

Feinstein says she was assured by Interior Department officials in the wake of last year's devastating brush fires that two C-130 cargo planes specially equipped for aerial firefighting would be available for this fire season.

The planes are capable of dropping 3,000 gallons of water from an onboard pressurized tank.

But in a letter to President Bush, Feinstein said the two planes -- one due this month and one slated for delivery July -- now won't be available. She says the lack of planes is a concern.

Feinstein : California is hot, the Santa Anas are going to begin to blow, and the only way to attack some of these fires is from the air.

The White House has not yet responded to the letter. Earlier this month the U.S. Forest Service warned the California National Guard to expect a heavy aerial firefighting season.

From Capitol News Connection in Washington, I’m Todd Zwillich for KPBS News.

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