Oct 27, 2007 9:02 pm US/Central
Thousands Of Prisoners Are On The Fire Lines Helping Battle The Blaze
(CBS) LAKE ARROWHEAD, Calif. They've stolen cars, used drugs and forged checks. When California is burning, they fight fires.
About a quarter of the 14,000 firefighters defending homes and businesses in Southern California from wildfires have been prisoners, officials said. Of the 4,400 inmates trained to battle fires in the state, 3,091 were on the front lines Friday from Lake Arrowhead south to San Diego.
"It's very close to the most we've ever used," said Seth Unger, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. About 3,000 inmates were used in 2003 during the Cedar Fire north of San Diego.
Not every inmate qualifies to be a firefighter. Those who do - male or female - must be physically fit, have no history of violent crime and have four t
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