Seven weeks before an important wildfire monitoring program is slated to lose access to Pentagon satellite data, 31 Democrats from California on Monday demanded the Defense Department commit to continuing the access that firefighters have come to rely on.
Since 2019, the Pentagon has been providing data from its classified infrared satellites to help firefighters in California and around the country spot and track wildfires. But that access is scheduled to end Sept. 30, and there is no assurance it will be extended.
“Its ending brings new dangers to firefighters on the front lines,” the lawmakers, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), and including Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday. “We believe that the Department must extend this program.”
The Los Angeles Times reported last month that Fireguard faced losing access to the military’s material and that the Pentagon was hesitant to permanently renew it. Heeding the praise from fire officials for the program, lawmakers have become more vocal in their concerns in recent weeks.
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