Thursday, July 31, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 0 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Feds say cost concerns slowed Calif. fire response

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:42 a.m. HST, Oct 11, 2010

LOS ANGELES — Concerns over firefighting costs slowed the U.S. Forest Service's initial response to last year's deadly 250-square-mile Southern California wildfire that killed two firefighters and destroyed 89 homes, federal investigators said in a report.

A review by the Agriculture Department, which runs the Forest Service, cites a letter before the Station Fire instructing managers to hold down costs and limit requests for crews, aircraft and equipment from state and local agencies.

"The decision on the Station fire to initially order only federal personnel delayed arrival of critical resources," according to the "Large Cost Fire Review" obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Forest Service officials have insisted for a year that cost concerns never impeded the response. The fire broke out in Angeles National Forest on Aug. 26, 2009, and raged untamed for more than a month.

The report was prepared for Tuesday's planned panel discussion in Pasadena on Station Fire strategy, which will be led by U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Glendale.

Tom Harbour, head of fire and aviation for the Forest Service, said he was unaware of specific findings in the report but suggested the conclusion about firefighting costs could be erroneous. All orders for crews, equipment and aircraft were filled during the first two days of the fire, he said.

The Agriculture Department review also said the Forest Service decided to concentrate on protecting homes and the communications towers and observatory on Mount Wilson, rather than staging a sustained direct assault on the backcountry front spreading into Angeles National Forest.

Former Forest Service officials describe the review as a "smoking gun" that exposes flawed tactics employed early in the fire. The Forest Service should have mounted a swift and unrelenting effort to stop the blaze on all fronts, they said.

Don Feser, former fire chief for Angeles National Forest, said the inquiry indicates that the officials who led the attack "allowed the fire to run."

"No action was taken in terms of aggressive perimeter control," he said.

Troy Kurth, the agency's former fire prevention officer for California, said firefighters could have kept the blaze from exploding into the backcountry. Instead, "they let it burn one of the most valuable watersheds in the world," he said.

 Print   Email   Comment | View 0 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
Breaking News
The Green Leaf
Marine debris art

Political Radar
`Toss up’

Political Radar

Political Radar
Hilton; Plaza Club

Political Radar
Direct mail

Political Radar
Direct mail