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Mendocino County efforts costing $1 million daily, plus loss of valuable redwoods

UKIAH ? About 200 federal firefighters are en route to Mendocino County to join in the ongoing battle to contain wildfires that have burned nearly 40,000 acres and still threaten 900 rural residences.

With the federal buildup, nearly 2,000 local, state and federal personnel soon will be engaged in what?s proving to be a long and costly fight.

In addition, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered 200 National Guard troops to report for fire training to relieve crews in undetermined locations early next week.

It marks the first time the Guard has been asked to send soldiers to join ground-based fire fights since 1977, a Guard spokesman said.

Firefighting costs in Mendocino County are running at least $1 million a day, according to state officials.

Losses of private property, especially valuable commercial stands of timber, are running at least as high.

?There are fires burning across 15,600 acres of our timberlands,? said Mike Jani, chief forester for Mendocino Redwood. The company is the county?s biggest private property owner with 228,000 acres of timberland in the core of fire country.

?Firefighting and mop-up efforts are probably going to go on for weeks, maybe even months,? he said.

Redwood trees, the prized commercial wood product on the North Coast, are typically more resistant to fire damage because of their thick bark, But younger redwoods are vulnerable if subjected to intensely hot fires.

Jani said Tuesday it?s too early to assess losses because company crews haven?t been able to count the standing timber in burn areas.

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