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Station Fire

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NEWS
September 27, 2009 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
U.S. Forest Service officials underestimated the threat posed by the deadly Station fire and scaled back their attack on the blaze the night before it began to rage out of control, records and interviews show. In response to Times inquiries, officials for the Forest Service and Los Angeles County Fire Department said they probably will change their procedures so that the two agencies immediately stage a joint assault on any fire in the lower Angeles National Forest. Angeles Forest Fire Chief David Conklin said his staff was confident that the Station fire had been "fairly well contained" on the first day, so it decided that evening to order just three water-dropping helicopters to hit the blaze shortly after dawn on its second day -- down from five on Day One -- and prepared to go into mop-up mode with fewer firefighters on the ground.
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NATIONAL
July 7, 2013 | By Devin Kelly
When the massive Station fire erupted in the Angeles National Forest in 2009, killing two firefighters, scorching more than 250 square miles and destroying dozens of homes, firefighters poured in from around the country. One crew came from Prescott, Ariz. They called themselves the Granite Mountain Hotshots. “Their work saved our neighborhood, possibly our city,” Eldon Horst told the La Cañada Flintridge City Council last week, one day after 19 members of the 20-man team perished in the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona . The crew helped save Horst's hillside home near the Angeles National Forest.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 14, 2009 | Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
A U.S. Forest Service review of its response to the Station fire has concluded that the blaze raged out of control because it spread into terrain too steep for firefighters to safely confront the flames, but the inquiry failed to address key questions about the agency's actions on the critical second day of the battle. Led by Forest Service officials in Washington, D.C., the review was based largely on interviews with the commanders who directed the attack on the fire during the first two days.
NEWS
August 16, 2012 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
The U.S. Forest Service said Thursday it has scrapped a rule that bars night flying to fight wildfires and plans to start nighttime helicopter missions next year to battle blazes in the Angeles National Forest and other federal lands in Southern California. “We have made this important decision very carefully,” Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a statement. “We have studied night operations from every angle - risk management, business and operations - and we have concluded we can conduct night operations safely and effectively.” The new policy, brought on by scrutiny of the disastrous 2009 Station fire, reverses a prohibition on night flying adopted in the 1970s for safety reasons.
NATIONAL
July 7, 2013 | By Devin Kelly
When the massive Station fire erupted in the Angeles National Forest in 2009, killing two firefighters, scorching more than 250 square miles and destroying dozens of homes, firefighters poured in from around the country. One crew came from Prescott, Ariz. They called themselves the Granite Mountain Hotshots. “Their work saved our neighborhood, possibly our city,” Eldon Horst told the La Cañada Flintridge City Council last week, one day after 19 members of the 20-man team perished in the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona . The crew helped save Horst's hillside home near the Angeles National Forest.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 13, 2009 | Ari B. Bloomekatz and Andrew Blankstein
Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives hope to question a man who was spotted tending a small fire in the vicinity of the Station fire almost one week before that deadly blaze erupted in the Angeles National Forest. At a news conference Monday, homicide detectives requested the public's help in locating a 25-year-old homeless man who was caught "feeding" a small, uncontrolled fire in the early afternoon of Aug. 20 -- six days before the start of the devastating Station fire. The man, Babatunsin Olukunle, a Nigerian national, was reportedly caught tending a fire near mile marker 36 of the Angeles Crest Highway.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 24, 2010 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
The U.S. Forest Service said Thursday that dispatch recordings illustrate that the agency aggressively attacked last year's Station fire with the nearest available planes, but the conversations also show that officials did not place a commander's orders for air tankers on the critical second morning of the blaze. In the telephone exchanges, dispatchers and firefighters become alarmed at the overnight spread of the flames in the Angeles National Forest and note that the commander has asked that the tankers and other aircraft arrive by 7 a.m. Shortly after midnight, however, dispatchers say that the Forest Service will divert tankers from a nearby fire in the morning, instead of ordering them through a regional operations center.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 10, 2009 | Baxter Holmes
More than a month ago, the Station fire was fully contained by firefighters. But on Mt. Wilson, it doesn't look that way. Dave Jurasevich has looked out the window of the Mt. Wilson Observatory and spotted several plumes of smoke in recent weeks since the worst fire in Los Angeles County history was declared contained. "We don't see a lot of fire, but we see smoke -- and where there's smoke, there's fire, obviously," said Jurasevich, the superintendent at the observatory, which was evacuated twice during the Station fire.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 22, 2009 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
A local House member says he will ask Congress to launch an inquiry next month into the U.S. Forest Service's response to the Station fire, including a decision to withhold water-dropping aircraft during the critical second day of the blaze. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) made the announcement after The Times reported Monday that records contradict the Forest Service's position that steep terrain prevented the agency from using helicopters and tanker planes to attack the fire in the hours before it began raging out of control.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 2, 2009 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
Three weeks before the deadly Station fire erupted, the U.S. Forest Service issued a cost-cutting order to reduce its use of state and local firefighters, documents and interviews show. Reinforcements from Los Angeles County were scaled back early in the battle against the fire in the Angeles National Forest, and federal officials now say they are investigating the actions that allowed the blaze to rage out of control. An internal memorandum obtained by The Times instructed forest supervisors in the Pacific Southwest region to, "as appropriate," replace non-federal crews with the service's own personnel and equipment "as quickly as possible.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 16, 2012 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
In a policy shift brought on by scrutiny of the disastrous 2009 Station fire, the U.S. Forest Service will begin nighttime helicopter missions to battle blazes in the Angeles National Forest and other federal lands in Southern California. The Forest Service said Thursday it has scrapped a ban on night flying to fight wildfires, a prohibition imposed about 30 years ago for safety and cost reasons, and plans to start flights after dark next summer, once crews have been trained and equipped.
OPINION
July 18, 2012
Re "A bear who tweets in the woods," July 14 When will people stop treating wild animals as entertainment? This poor bear will probably be killed eventually because of the ignorance and unwillingness of people to respect wild animals as they are, not as cartoon characters. If the bear had killed someone's pet or injured a human, people would be crying for its destruction. The biggest culprits in this drama are the continuing encroachment into wildlife habit by developers and the 2009 Station fire, which reduced hunting ranges and food supplies.
NATIONAL
July 2, 2012 | By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times
After several years of relatively benign fire seasons, the West is headed into a hot, dry summer of potentially ferocious blazes like the ones that have scorched Colorado in recent weeks. The wildfires that have already destroyed more than 700 homes and outbuildings along Colorado's Front Range and blackened hundreds of thousands of acres of New Mexico wilderness are not likely to be the season's last for one simple reason: drought. "This year, fires are going big," Tom Harbour, fire and aviation director for the U.S. Forest Service, said last week.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 9, 2012 | By Esmeralda Bermudez, Los Angeles Times
They weren't the most flattering addition to the neighborhood, and three years after the devastating Station fire the foothills of La Crescenta are bidding farewell to nearly half a mile of concrete barriers installed to guard against mudslides. The K-rails, as they're known, were put in place in La Crescenta and La Cañada Flintridge soon after the fire burned more than 160,000 acres, incinerating trees and shrubbery on hillsides that typically kept mud from spilling into homes during heavy rains.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 7, 2012 | By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
Federal forester Steve Bear stood on a fire-stripped slope of the San Gabriel Mountains last week, trying to find just one pine sapling, any sapling, pushing through the bright green bedspread of vegetation. It would give him hope after a year of disappointment. Last April, U.S. Forest Service crews planted nearly a million pine and fir trees to try to reclaim land scorched clean by the devastating Station fire. Most of them shriveled up and died within months, as skeptics had predicted.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 23, 2011 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) pressed federal authorities Thursday to clarify whether the U.S. Forest Service violated privacy laws by recording telephone calls to an emergency center during the 2009 Station fire. Schiff said a report he received from the U.S. Agriculture Department's inspector general indicated that recordings made from two Angeles National Forest phone lines appeared to be illegal because callers were not given the opportunity to consent to being taped. In an emailed statement, Schiff wrote that the "report suggests that the law was broken but inexplicably fails to reach a conclusion.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 23, 2011 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) pressed federal authorities Thursday to clarify whether the U.S. Forest Service violated privacy laws by recording telephone calls to an emergency center during the 2009 Station fire. Schiff said a report he received from the U.S. Agriculture Department's inspector general indicated that recordings made from two Angeles National Forest phone lines appeared to be illegal because callers were not given the opportunity to consent to being taped. In an emailed statement, Schiff wrote that the "report suggests that the law was broken but inexplicably fails to reach a conclusion.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 17, 2011 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
A federal inquiry has concluded that the U.S. Forest Service failed to use all the aircraft that might have been available during the critical early hours of the 2009 Station fire, but the findings left unanswered key questions of why the planes and helicopters were not deployed. The report Friday by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, also said the Forest Service should clarify its policies on using aircraft and ground crews from local and state agencies.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 21, 2011 | Daniel Siegal and Abby Sewell
Though gathering La Nina conditions should foreshadow a dry winter in Southern California, the forecast was belied by rainstorms that swept the Los Angeles region Sunday, flooding streets and sending motorists sliding and colliding on muddy and rain-slicked roads. By midday, parts of Los Angeles County had accumulated between half an inch and 1.5 inches of rain, and the showers continued. Streets flooded in Hancock Park, the northbound 405 Freeway near Mulholland Drive was covered in mud, and California Highway Patrol officers were busy chasing fender-benders throughout the day. In one case, a big rig slid off the 118 Freeway in Pacoima and crashed onto the surface streets below, hitting a power pole and overturning.
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