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For Immediate Release
October 24, 2007

President Bush Meets with Cabinet, Discusses Fires in California
Cabinet Room

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  Presidential Remarks

10:55 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank the members of my Cabinet for being here today to discuss a lot of issues. I started off the meeting by summarizing a series of conversations that I've had regarding the fires in Southern California. I had a conversation with Governor Schwarzenegger. My question to him was, are you getting what you need; are the people there in California getting the help they need from the federal agencies to help the good folks in California deal with these devastating fires? His answer was, yes. I assured him that if he needs anything, then, great, we'll provide it, we'll do so.

I also had an opportunity to thank him, as well as California officials, for working hard to save houses, save lives. I appreciate very much the fact that they're willing to work in a collaborative fashion with the federal government. I've been meeting with my Cabinet secretaries that are responsible for helping the state and local authorities fight these fires. I will report to you that I am -- I believe the effort is well coordinated. I know we're getting the manpower and assets on the ground that have been requested by the state and local authorities.

I wish we could control the wind, because one of the things that's hampering our joint capability of fighting these fires is the strong westerly winds. I'm told the winds may be dying down soon, in which case it will make it -- make this equipment we've got in place a lot more effective at helping fight the fires.

I initially declared an emergency declaration, which will enable us to send federal equipment and manpower into the scene, including Department of Defense help. Today I've signed a major disaster declaration, which will then enable federal funds to start heading toward the families who have been affected by these fires.

Looking forward to going out to California tomorrow. We'll continue to make sure that our efforts are coordinated, that we are responsive to the needs and people. And most importantly, I want the people in Southern California to know that Americans all across this land care deeply about them, we're concerned about their safety, we're concerned about their property, and we offer our prayers and hopes that all will turn out fine in the end. In the meantime, they can rest assured that the federal government will do everything we can to help put out these fires.

Thank you.

END 10:58 A.M. EDT

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