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Fire's untended consequences

October 01, 2009

Re: "Station fire's strength was miscalculated," Sept. 27, and "Probe sought on U.S. response to the Station fire," Sept. 29

Firefighting, including that in hazardous terrain, is an extremely dangerous pursuit performed by very brave personnel.

The fire official who commented on the Station fire in The Times was deadly correct when he said: "Every brush fire starts out small. Either you extinguish the damn thing or it goes a few days and you have a major disaster."

Unfortunately, the lessons learned from the Cedar fire in San Diego County in 2003 have apparently been forgotten. In that case, a hunter set a small signal fire. The fire could not be promptly extinguished and eventually grew to 280,000-plus acres, with 15 dead and large-scale loss of natural resources and property.

Immediate, decisive action is needed to preclude future brush fires from potentially becoming catastrophes.

Edmund H. Conrow

Redondo Beach

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My husband came home the day after the Station fire broke out, disturbed by a report stating that local fire officials had done little the day before to respond to the fire that was, by then, raging in the hills above La Canada Flintridge and approaching the hills above our Altadena home.

When I think of the loss of two firefighters' lives, the homes burned, countless animals living in the Angeles National Forest that died from that fire, the stress on residents who evacuated and prepared for the loss of their homes, and the respiratory illness created by the smoke we all breathed in for more than two weeks, I am disheartened and saddened.

I am as troubled by this example of local government's failure to respond and protect as I am by national legislators' seeming unwillingness to protect people from the corporate greed of health insurance companies.

Jamie Gorman

Altadena

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As an avid and frequent user of the Angeles National Forest, it was devastating to watch a significant portion of the forest burn over a multi-week period as the Station fire raged out of control. Even more painful was reading The Times story that depicted the apparent high-level mismanagement of the fire in its first few days.

Consider a few obvious facts: The forest has been tinder dry for many years; the forest area is virtually inaccessible in many areas above La Canada Flintridge; and the forest area had not burned in decades. A recipe for disaster, and our experts let us down.

John Bednarski

Altadena

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When I heard something similar two weeks ago, I could scarcely believe it -- that experts would treat any fire in our parched forests cavalierly. These so-called managers and protectors of our forests are every bit to blame for all that destruction as the arsonist.

Linda Navroth

Culver City

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