A South Coast congressman is lashing out at the U.S. Forest Service, accusing the agency of delaying action to put military air tankers into service fighting some of the massive brushfires burning in the Western U.S.
Republican Congressman Elton Gallegly of Simi Valley issued a toughly worded statement saying that the enemy is not the fire, but that it’s the Forest Service.
The Forest Service is required by law to use all available commercial air tankers before it can use the mobilized converted military planes, equipped with Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems.
The congressman says while four of the craft are now in action, another dozen were idle as of yesterday. Gallegly says the legal requirements were met days ago, and he introduced legislation to activate the craft, because he says the Forest Service is dragging its feet.
The Forest Service said earlier this week that it had enough aircraft to deal with the fires underway.