Confusion Cited in Draft Report on Deadly Station Fire (CA)

A draft report cites conflicting accounts of why an air tanker was not summoned in the early hours of what turned out to be the largest wildland fire in Los Angeles County (CA) history. The document obtained Friday by The Associated Press (http://bit.ly/uSO1v6) concludes it’s not possible, however, to know if different decisions would have extinguished the fire, which killed two firefighters.

Residents affected by the deadly 2009 Station Fire, which was caused by arson, have complained the Forest Service allowed the flames to spread by failing to bring in enough firefighters and aircraft to combat the fire, which was reportedly because of budget constraints.

The 67-page draft U.S. Government Accountability Office report concludes the Forest Service needs to clear up foggy policies that could cause confusion when working with local firefighters, but it stops short of suggesting the Station Fire could have been stopped in its early hours.

Fire Captain Ted Hall and Engineer Arnie Quinones lost their lives in the devastating wildfire while struggling to save more than 60 people who were at the hilltop camp. The burned for more than a month in Southern California and destroyed scores of buildings.

A federal review in 2009 found the fire slipped out of control because it jumped into steep, inaccessible terrain, not because the Forest Service scaled back firefighters and aircraft attacking the flames.

Read more about the new draft report at http://bit.ly/uSO1v6.

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