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Station Fire

October 13, 2010 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
Under intense questioning by House members, the former U.S. Forest Service commander who led the initial attack on last year's Station fire conceded Tuesday that a "window of opportunity" to contain the flames was lost when aircraft arrived two hours late on the critical second morning of the blaze. Members of the bipartisan congressional panel spent much of the four-hour-plus session in Pasadena grilling the now-retired commander and current Forest Service officials about the response to the fire, sometimes expressing frustration that they were not getting the full story.
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.
September 5, 2009 | Ari B. Bloomekatz
The Gold Creek Ranch edges the Angeles National Forest north of Sunland, a 160-acre estate with high hills and open fields, where a 3-foot-tall wooden statue of Buddha rests under an oak tree and residents do yoga on flat rocks next to yucca plants. "It's a spiritual place," says Nicholas Bowrin, 47, who has been staying at the ranch for a little over two years. The ranch's owner, 77-year-old Jack Johnson, said the "property is my life." "I'm 23 miles from Hollywood and Vine right now, but I'm at the end of the world," Johnson said Thursday afternoon at the ranch, after fire licked at the private retreat.
November 7, 2009
Re "Time for action came and went," Nov. 1 Several days after the Station fire began, I attended a press conference at the fire command center. The governor spoke, along with other officials. I could not believe my ears when a Forest Service representative announced that three to five homes had burned the day before. My neighbors and I, from the Vogel Flats area/Big Tujunga Canyon, had heard eyewitness reports (and seen photos on Facebook) of more than 20 homes in our neighborhood that had burned down that day. It is hard enough to lose one's home.
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.
May 21, 2010 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
A U.S. Senate panel has scheduled a hearing next week on proposals to repeal a decades-old U.S. Forest Service policy that bars its firefighting aircraft from flying night missions, a prohibition that some say allowed last summer's disastrous Station blaze to rage out of control. Among those set to testify at the Wednesday session is U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who has called for a congressional investigation into the response to the Station fire and asked lawmakers to require the Forest Service to reconsider its ban on night helicopter flights, which was imposed in the 1970s after a crash.
September 15, 2010 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
A panel of local House members led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D- Burbank) will examine the battle against last year's Station fire at a public meeting next month in Pasadena. Among those scheduled to address the panel are top officials of the U.S. Forest Service and Los Angeles County Fire Department. Schiff called for a congressional inquiry after The Times reported that the Forest Service misjudged the threat posed by the fire and scaled back its assault at the end of the first day. The next morning, aircraft that the agency's commander ordered did not reach the blaze until about two hours after the appointed time.
December 17, 2009 | By Thomas Curwen
When the rain started to fall, Janet Blake started to worry. From the picture window of her home, she could see the stream that was once her street become a torrent of stones, branches and mud. The fire was easier, she thought; that was only six days of worry. The possibility of the mountain sliding down upon her is indefinite. Her husband, Brian Hodge, worked in the other room, and Cooper, their yellow lab, stood beside her, his tail merrily striking the ornaments on the Christmas tree.
December 31, 2009 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
As walls of flame from the massive Station blaze closed in on their remote compound, the mission of the crews at Fire Camp 16 suddenly changed from protecting their corner of the Angeles National Forest to saving their own lives. Two Los Angeles County firefighters approached the front line of the blaze in a heroic attempt to stop its march toward the camp high in the San Gabriel Mountains and were killed as the flames engulfed the landscape, officials say. Now, four months after Capt.
September 9, 2010 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
Acting on a request by California lawmakers, the investigative arm of Congress has agreed to conduct a broad inquiry into the U.S. Forest Service's handling of last year's devastating Station fire, officials said Wednesday. The state's two U.S. senators and several House members last month urged the Government Accountability Office to examine the Forest Service's decisions and tactics in the fire fight, including its use of aircraft and whether enough was done to protect homes that burned in Big Tujunga Canyon.
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