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California Firefighters Face Both Flame and Exhaustion Combating Latest Fires

Aired June 15, 2000 - 2:03 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: It has become so dry out West that a fire in New Mexico's Gila National Forest is being blamed on what they're calling a blowout. A runaway hub flung a few sparks. That produced a fire that now covers 500 acres or so.

In Northern California, sweltering heat is increasing the threat of fires, and is making the job of fighting them much tougher.

More on that from Napa Valley now from Christian Petersen (ph), of affiliate station KNTV.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIAN PETERSEN, KNTV REPORTER (voice-over): Braving intense heat, firefighters blast hot spots.

UNIDENTIFIED FIREFIGHTER: Water, watch your camera.

PETERSEN: A chopper flying above them helps out, dropping buckets of water. It's a team effort where every move is calculated and the danger level rises with the temperature.

UNIDENTIFIED FIREFIGHTER: It's extremely difficult. It's got to be -- I have no idea what the temperatures are, probably anywhere from 100-110, maybe; hot, dusty and just terrible.

PETERSEN: Firefighters not only battle the flames, but exhaustion brought on by heat stress and exertion. At the staging area, bottles of water and shade provide some level of comfort from the blistering sun and the choking smoke.

UNIDENTIFIED FIREFIGHTER: It's not comfortable, but you don't think about it much. You're just too damn busy. You know, you've just got a lot of stuff to do and things are happening. And by the time you have a chance to think about, it's time to have some more water.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATERS: That report from Christian Petersen of KNTV. We'll be keeping track of these fires throughout the day.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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