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Cost of fighting the Station fire: $88 million and counting

With full containment expected Tuesday, the blaze could end up costing more than $100 million to fight.

September 12, 2009|Louis Sahagun and Richard Winton

The cost of fighting the Station fire stood at $88 million Friday as firefighters continued to make progress in containing the 3-week-old blaze.

With full containment expected Tuesday, the fire could end up costing more than $100 million to fight.

"We keep evaluating the costs every day," said Tom DeBellis of the U.S. Forest Service.

The Station fire, which has destroyed more than 80 dwellings and killed two firefighters, was 81% contained as of Friday. About 1,500 homes remained threatened in the foothills above Sierra Madre, Arcadia and Monrovia as the blaze continued burning along its eastern flank.

DeBellis said firefighters continued to complete back burns, with the hope of surrounding Mt. Wilson and vicinity in a "black line" fire buffer.

Meanwhile, detectives hunting for the arsonist responsible for the fire have received tips from about 50 people and will pursue every one of them, officials said.

Lt. Liam Gallagher of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's homicide unit said investigators treat every tip seriously because sometimes the smallest piece of information can lead to other clues that solve a case.

"We will check out every piece of information very carefully," he said.

The number of detectives working the case has been increased to 10. With the arsonist responsible for the wildfire still at large, investigators have appealed for anyone near the point of origin -- on Angeles Crest Highway just north of La Canada Flintridge, about 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 26 -- to come forward and report whatever he can recall.

The probe became a homicide investigation when two firefighters died after their truck plunged 800 feet into a ravine as they tried to find an escape route for fellow firefighters.

Los Angeles County and the state have offered a $150,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the arsonist. Thousands of people -- many of them firefighters in uniform -- are expected to assemble at Dodger Stadium this morning to pay tribute to the two men who lost their lives: Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Tedmund "Ted" Hall, 47, of San Bernardino County, and Firefighter Specialist Arnaldo "Arnie" Quinones, 34, of Palmdale.

The public memorial was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Among those expected to attend were Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and firefighters from across California and the nation.

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louis.sahagun@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

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