Schwarzenegger asks for full cooperation
DAVENPORT, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urged residents to heed mandatory evacuation orders Saturday as 6,800 firefighters battled to control nearly a dozen blazes across the parched state.
Schwarzenegger met with firefighters at the Lockheed Fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a day after the governor returned to the state from attending the funeral of his mother-in-law, Eunice Shriver.
The Lockheed Fire has blackened close to 8 square miles of remote wilderness since Wednesday and prompted mandatory evacuations of the mountain communities of Swanton and Bonny Doon, which have about 2,400 residents and several wineries.
"These fires will be different than most of the fires because of the terrain," Schwarzenegger said. "It's very hard to get equipment in there and the resources in there. That's why you see a lot of helicopters and fixed winged aircraft being used."
The fire spread slightly overnight but crews gained some ground when the winds died down, containing nearly 30 percent of the fire, said CalFire spokeswoman Julie Hutchinson.
Schwarzenegger said the Lockheed Fire was one of 11 burning in the state. Other blazes have forced evacuations and knocked out power, and smoke and ash from the growing wildfire in Santa Barbara County whirled into the Los Angeles area. Lt. Gov. John Garamendi declared a state of emergency Friday for Santa Cruz County.
2 tropical storms develop in Atlantic
MIAMI (AP) — Tropical storm watches have been issued for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and parts of the Netherland Antilles as Ana races west through the Atlantic.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Bill has formed farther east and forecasters say they expect it to become a hurricane over the next several days.
The National Hurricane Center said Saturday night that Ana had maximum sustained winds near 40 mph and was moving west near 17 mph. It's about 710 miles east-southeast of the Leeward Islands and is not expected to strengthen in the next 24 hours.
The Hurricane Center says residents of Puerto Rico should also monitor Ana's progress. The tropical storm watches mean tropical storm conditions are possible, probably within 36 hours.
Union, city working to avoid BART strike
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Management of the San Francisco Bay area's commuter rail system and the union representing its train operators and station agents returned to the bargaining table Saturday, hoping to prevent a strike that threatened to clog bridges and maroon thousands of commuters when the workweek begins.
Leaders of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 announced earlier in the week that they would strike Monday after Bay Area Rapid Transit's board of directors imposed work terms that the union says amount to a 7 percent pay cut.
Two other BART unions already have approved new contracts, and BART spokesman Linton Johnson said ATU should follow suit.
"They can be the heroes in this by not having a strike," he said.
But Jesse Hunt, president of Local 1555, said the union has been asked to make more than its fair share of concessions. "Obviously, we see it very differently," he said.
Still, Hunt sounded an optimistic note, saying, "We are very close and are hoping to get this done."
BART officials declined to give any specifics on Saturday's discussions.