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Clinton Visits, Praises Idaho Firefighters

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2000 – President Clinton traveled to Idaho Aug. 8 to praise civilian and military firefighters combating wildfires in Payette National Forest.

The president, accompanied by Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Army Secretary Louis Caldera and Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck, spoke to civilians and military in Burgdorf Junction after flying over several areas of burning forest in the morning.

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President Clinton visits soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, deployed to Burgdorf Junction, Idaho, to fight wildfires in Payette National Forest. Photo by Master Sgt. Don Thomas, USA. (Click photo for screen-resolution image; high-resolution image available)

Clinton noted that 4 million acres of forest have been lost to wildfires and that $150 million in emergency funds had been added to aid continued firefighting and restoration efforts.

While Mother Nature is often destructive, Clinton said, people can mitigate her effects. What matters is "that people don't die," he said. "It matters that property is saved. It matters that precious and irreplaceable things are saved."

Clinton saluted the soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, and Marines from Camp Pendleton, Calif., who deployed to help combat the wildfires. He also joked with his former military aide.

"I'm especially proud of this group from Fort Hood because their leader, Lt. Col. Dell Williams, was my Army military aide before he got a real job with you guys," he said. "I told him today I was glad to see him having to do real work after having that White House job for a good while. But it didn't do him any permanent harm."

Clinton then thanked the firefighters. "These fires have been very well publicized and the American people know how they're being fought and who is fighting them," he said. "And you need to know that we're proud of you and we're grateful to you."

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Related Articles:
AFPS News Article: Soldiers, Marines Join Western Firefight
AFPS News Article: Soldiers, Marines Join Wildfire Battle

Click photo for screen-resolution imagePresident Clinton talks with soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas, who deployed to Burgdorf Junction, Idaho, to fight fires in Payette National Forest. Clinton visited the site Aug. 8 and thanked the soldiers and the Marines from Camp Pendleton, Calif., who, at that point, had been on the fire lines several days. Photo by Master Sgt. Lewis Matson, USA.   
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